No Taxpayer Funding For Commonwealth Games
In 2015, a small and secretive group of Calgarians affiliated with professional sports teams began working on a Calgary Olympic bid.
The entire campaign was a disaster of epic proportions, with exaggerated benefits, underestimated costs that kept increasing every few weeks, a complete lack of transparency and accountability, and a general disdain for the regular taxpaying members of the public.
In 2018, those regular taxpaying members of the public in Calgary sent a clear message - voting in a referendum to reject the idea of Calgary submitting a formal bid to host the Olympics.
But, the secretive groups behind that bid didn't listen.
They immediately began working on a new bid for the 2030 Olympic Games!
After once again working behind the scenes in secret for a couple of years, this bid was sunk when the Alberta government ruled out providing any public funding for such a bid.
The drive to spend taxpayer funding on professional sports facilities isn't limited only to Calgary though.
In Edmonton, a similar group tried to put together a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
That bid fell apart due to - you guessed it - runaway costs and a lack of funding.
But the Edmonton group was also not deterred and switched their focus to a bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which was also unsuccessful.
At this point, you might be wondering why these groups keep bidding for such a variety of different events.
Well, the one thing that all these bids do have in common is that they would all require more and more taxpayer funding to pay to renovate existing or build new arenas and stadiums for the teams that the bidders are affiliated with.
And, the fact that they just keep trying, no matter the cost and even no matter what the actual event they're bidding on is, seems to suggest that perhaps the bids are more about getting access to that taxpayer funding than they are about the value and benefits of any specific event.
All of which brings us to the latest shiny thing these groups want to bid for.
Earlier today, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek and Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi joined forces to announce an Alberta bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games.
This time, it's a joint bid, with both Calgary and Edmonton groups getting in on the action, ostensibly to share costs.
But, the potential cost for a joint Calgary-Edmonton bid for the 2030 Commonwealth has yet to be determined.
Even when a "final" cost is determined and the bidders claim that the cost makes financial sense, we already know that those numbers will be fudged to overestimate the benefits and undercount the costs.
All of the academic literature, credible economic analysis, and historical evidence shows that the economic benefits of major sporting events don’t add up.
Sports bodies and municipal politicians commission poor-quality reports that always find unrealistically high estimates for economic returns, but that never actually eventuate once the event is held.
That’s because every dollar that goes “into” the economy when the government spends taxes on sporting events and arenas is a dollar that first had to be taxed “out of” the economy.
That means, at best, there can be no economic boost, and more likely, wasted government spending will leave the economy worse off overall.
We also know that there will inevitably be regular cost increases and that the "final" cost will be nothing of the sort.
Eventually, it will become obvious to everyone except the organizers and the self-interested City officials that the bid doesn't make sense.
But, by then, they're hoping we're so far in on the process of bidding that it will be too late to back out.
The Alberta government needs to step in and nip this idea in the bud.
Calgary, Edmonton, and Alberta taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for fancy buildings for rich sports groups.
During an affordability crisis, record high inflation, and uncertainty about the future of our province's economy, Albertans have much more important things to spend their money on.
We can't afford this extravagant expense.
The Alberta government must rule out the use of any taxpayer funding for the Alberta 2030 bid to host the Commonwealth Games.
If the organizations and individuals behind the bid believe it is so valuable, they should have no problem finding a way to make it work without needing to force regular Albertans who can't afford their grocery and electricity bills to pay for it for it.
If you agree, please sign our petition opposing taxpayer funding being used to host the Commonwealth Games.
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Find private sponsors and also have the teams that will benefit pay.