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In this edition of Graphic Intelligence, we delve into Calgary's projected costs for hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games. 

Calgarians go to the polls on Tuesday on whether the city should continue its bid to host the 2026 Olympics. Games always involve financial risks and a significant price tag.  So how much would hosting the 2026 Olympics cost? How does Calgary’s price tag compare to Vancouver’s costs in 2010?

Figure 1 shows Calgary’s projected costs across different buckets, and compares them with Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic spending.  Adjusted for inflation, Calgary’s relative operating costs are practically identical to those for Vancouver: $835,000 per athlete in 2018 Canadian dollars.  Notably, Calgary 2026 builds in $905 million in capital costs for venues that are greater than the inflation-adjusted $685 million spent on venue construction by Vancouver.  Calgary’s bid also directly budgets for housing athletes, which was separately financed in 2010. 

Figure 2 shows how much public money is projected to be spent.  Under the funding plan, the City of Calgary would lay out $390 million. If financed as debt paid down by municipal taxes over 20 years, the median Calgary homeowner would face about $30 per year in additional property taxes.  The $700-million contribution by the Government of Alberta translates to approximately $250 for each working-age Albertan.

For a detailed discussion of the issue, see “Should Calgary go for Olympic gold?” by Grant Bishop.