CALGARY — The Commonwealth Games continue to be a tough sell domestically with a potential third Canadian bid dying by lack of provincial government enthusiasm.
Alberta has pulled the plug on a possible 2030 Commonwealth Games bid involving Calgary and Edmonton.
The province cited financial risk and an estimated price tag of up to $2.68 billion.
That comes after Hamilton’s pursuit of 2030 and a Victoria volunteer group’s interest in 2026 also expired this year because of Ontario and B.C. government disinterest.
Alberta’s 2030 bid committee called the provincial government’s move an “unexpected decision” as the organization had yet to take its pitch to the public.
The bid involved Calgary and Edmonton, as well as the Tsuut’ina Nation and Enoch Cree Nation.
“We are disappointed ? and will not be commenting further,” Alberta 2030 Bidco said in a statement Thursday.
The provincial government stated the Games wouldn’t generate enough revenue to cover enough of the cost.
“The corporate sponsorship model and limited broadcast revenues for the Commonwealth Games would have put 93 per cent of financial burden and risks on Albertans,” Alberta Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow said in a statement.
“Alberta has a successful history of hosting major, international multi-sport games in our province and any proposal to host major games is considered with the interests of Alberta taxpayers at top of mind.
“We committed to remain transparent with Albertans about the costs of hosting international sporting events and clearly demonstrating a return on our investment for the people and communities in Alberta. That is why we have made the decision not to continue pursuing the bid for the 2030 Commonwealth Games.”
The quadrennial Commonwealth Games features 6,500 athletes and coaches from 71 countries competing in summer sport.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said in a statement there was enthusiasm in Alberta’s capital to “unite people worldwide in a celebration of sport and culture, advance reconciliation with our Indigenous partners and create infrastructure and program legacies for future generations.
“Sports are part of our DNA and we love how it brings people together,” he said. “Edmonton will continue hosting national and international events and showcase talented athletes of all ages and abilities while building legacies and lifetime memories for our community.”
Hamilton hosted the first iteration of the Commonwealth Games, which was the British Empire Games, in 1930. The city made the 100th anniversary its hook for a 2030 bid.
The southwestern Ontario city unsuccessfully pursued the 1994, 2010 and 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Victoria was the last Canadian city to host in 1994.
Hamilton’s bid group had developed a fleshed out proposal of venues and possible benefits of a Games estimated to cost between $1 billion and $1.5 billion.
When Hamilton’s 2030 bid was denied by Ontario, Alberta’s became the preferred Canadian bid by Commonwealth Sport Canada in February.
“Commonwealth Sport Canada is profoundly disappointed in Alberta government’s decision but respects their right to make this decision,” the CSC said in a statement.
Victoria’s intentions for 2026 were less pronounced and a proposal wasn’t made public.
Victoria, Australia recently withdrawing as the 2026 host city over costs opened the door for Victoria, B.C., but the Victoria Times-Colonist reported the B.C. government would not consider a bid for 2026.
“We believe the recent decision by the Victorian government to withdraw from the 2026 Commonwealth Games was a significant factor in Alberta’s decision, as well as an over-dependence on taxpayer’s support for the planning and delivery of the Games,” Commonwealth Sport Canada added in its statement.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games were held in Birmingham, England.
Calgary rejected a bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in a November 2018 plebiscite, in which 56 per cent of voters said no.
Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.