Clad in business attire at Mount Royal University, 25 third-year students look nervous as they prepare to give a high-stakes presentation in their facility and events management course at the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning on March 22.
As the clock ticks, the room starts to fill and the atmosphere begins to change. The students are focused on one goal: to successfully present their semester-long project focusing on a 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.
Tables fill up with a string of high-profile individuals including members of the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC). All are anxious to hear their take on a feasible Olympic Games for Calgary, says David Legg, chair of the health and physical education department at Mount Royal University.
“So the students were tasked to provide input to very influential people related to the bid to give their ideas and their own input,” said Legg.
The presentation showcased key details outlining what the Olympic Games would look like for Calgary. Students presented topics ranging from budgetary concerns to infrastructure. Their ideas included:
❏ A new Green Line LRT connecting to the airport
❏ A new Foothills Field House
❏ New winter events, such as co-ed bobsleigh, ski mountaineering and professionally played video games
❏ Multiple athletes’ villages stationed at Mount Royal University, the University of Calgary, and Kananaskis Lodge
❏ Portable housing development
❏ A contest for children to draw and create the Games’ official mascot
Making a statement
The students infused their pitch with practicable ideas, not only to show how Calgary could host the Games, but to also spark debate on how the city’s legacy could be impacted.
“We really tried to make sure that as big as our ideas were that we at least had an understanding of the impact towards its cost, the impact to the community and the impact for the long term,” said Mount Royal student Andrew Crickmore, who is majoring in sports and recreation management.
“Frankly, like we said in our opening, we really are the product of the legacy of the ‘88 games as a generation and we want to have that for the next generation and this is the perfect opportunity to do it with 2026.”
The audience reacted positively, with many commending the students for the level of detail in the presentation.
Canadian Sport Institute Calgary president and CBEC member Dale Henwood complimented the students, especially for their take on interesting ideas.
“I understand it’s a pretty short timeframe and it’s very difficult for them to go into a lot of details, so I’m sure there’s gonna be lots of questions about why they made a certain decision or how they arrived at some of the numbers,” said Henwood.
“But overall, in terms of the comprehensiveness and just the ideas that they sparked I think were really good.”
The next step: where we go from here
Though city officials have pegged a budget of more than $4.6 billion to host the Games, final decisions are still up in the air as governments have yet to make any commitments.
“They have not said yes yet and part of their yes is that they are waiting for both the provincial and federal governments to come on side,” said Henwood.
“So hopefully that will happen in the near future, though we don’t know the timelines on that in order for this to go, because of the magnitude of the project, you need all three levels of government involved.”
This story is part of Hindsight 2026, a joint project between the Sprawl and the Calgary Journal (which is produced by journalism students at Mount Royal University). We’re digging into past Olympics to evaluate whether a 2026 Winter Games in Calgary would help or hinder our city.
- By Miguel Ibe