Let's Take A Lesson From Australia
The Commonwealth Games are back in the news and, we hate to say we told you so, but...
We told you so.
It looks like governments - and more importantly, the taxpayers they’re accountable to - are finally realizing that giant sporting spectacles are more risk than reward.
Recently, the Australian state of Victoria pulled out of its hosting duties for 2026 due to cost overruns.
(Keep in mind, Victoria was the only bidder for the games - literally, no one else wants them.)
All of the usual arguments were touted for hosting the games - tourism dollars, infrastructure upgrades, legacy sporting facilities, job creation, and so on.
The budget was initially set at $2.39 billion, but the cost ballooned to triple that amount, coming in at a whopping $6.3 billion.
The Games were also set to take place using a "regional model" - meaning events would be scheduled in multiple cities in the state of Victoria, including Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, and Gippsland.
This was supposed to save money too, but ended up being a disaster waiting to happen.
Even the Commonwealth Games Australia Chief Executive Officer blamed the regional model - the thing that was supposed to save money - for contributing to the massive cost overrun.
What does this have to do with Alberta?
Well, the cancellation raised questions about the status of Calgary, Edmonton, and the Tsuu T'ina Nation’s joint bid for the 2030 Games.
For starters, the 2030 bid is based on the same regional model that our friends down under just realized would be a spectacular financial mess.
A regional model doesn't just spread out the cost over more people, but ensures that the benefits are spread more thinly too, with fewer people and businesses benefiting from the investment.
There’s also the matter of extra security, extra infrastructure costs, extra travel costs, etc.
One Australian Premier called the whole charade “ruinously expensive”.
Even with that in mind, the Government of Alberta said that Australia’s backing out would not result in any immediate implications to the Province’s bid.
But there really should be implications.
It should be a giant wakeup call.
The net economic benefit of hosting these types of events is always overstated, and the risks are always understated.
Hopefully, you’ll soon get an official say in whether you want to foot the bill for this type of thing.
Alberta is looking at a potential framework for requiring referenda prior to agreeing to these sorts of large international events - which is a good thing.
But, for some weird reason, that framework won’t be in place until after the ship has sailed on the 2030 decision.
We'll be pushing the province to change that and give Albertans a say on how their taxes get spent.
But, in the meantime, let’s stop this Commonwealth Games bid before it wastes another cent.
If you agree, sign our petition to say No Taxpayer Funding For Commonwealth Games.
Once you've signed, please pass the petition on, so others can sign.
The Alberta Institute Team