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Alberta government says it would front $700M for Calgary Olympics

Last Updated Oct 12, 2018 at 1:22 pm PDT

Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation CEO Mary Moran delivers technical elements of its plan for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Calgary City Council, in Calgary, Alta., on September 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY – The Alberta government says it would contribute a maximum of $700 million if Calgary were to hold the 2026 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

The province says the money is contingent on a majority of voters supporting the bid in an upcoming plebiscite and on increased transparency in the organizing process.

A draft plan for Calgary to potentially host the 2026 Games pegs the cost at $5.2 billion. It suggests the city, provincial and federal governments should contribute $3 billion of that.

It says the remainder would come from Games revenue.

In a letter to the city Friday, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said there wouldn’t be any cash beyond the $700 million.

“The government of Alberta will not be able to provide any additional funds that may be required, including those to cover revenue shortfalls or cost overruns,” he wrote.

“Moreover, we will not be providing any form of guarantee for additional costs arising from any source.”

A non-binding plebiscite on whether the city should bid for the 2026 Olympics is Nov. 13. The government insisted Calgary hold it and contributed $2 million to the cost.

Federal Sport Minister Kirsty Duncan has expressed enthusiasm for a bid, but Ottawa has not said exactly how much it would contribute.

Calgary 2026, the corporation leading bid efforts, has forecast $2.2 billion in direct private sector investment, a $2-billion boost to Alberta’s GDP and $200 million in provincial and municipal tax revenue if the Games were to go ahead.

The plan calls for $400 million on two new venues — a fieldhouse and mid-sized arena — and $500 million to refurbish old ones that would be included in a bid, many of which date back to when Calgary held the 1988 Winter Games.

Some events would be held west of Calgary in the Rocky Mountain town of Canmore, at the Nakiska ski resort in what is known as Kananaskis Country and as far away as Whistler, B.C.

The plan includes $583 million for temporary accommodations for athletes, media and officials that would be converted into mostly affordable housing in the long term.

Calgary and a combined Italian bid of Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo could be the only contenders for 2026. A coalition deal to run Stockholm’s city government on Friday leaves the Swedish capital’s potential bid in jeopardy.

The deadline to submit a 2026 bid to the International Olympic Committee is Jan. 11. The successful host city is to be announced in June.