How Calgary Businesses Feel About the 2026 Olympic Bid
This article is part of our Business in Alberta series where we discuss the economic and business environment in Alberta, Canada.
It’s no secret that Calgary’s potential 2026 Olympic bid has been a hot debate. As a digital agency, we’re meeting with local businesses on a daily basis. In these conversations we have found the topic of the Olympics has been of much more interest to our clients than the latest trends in web design.
The economic impact of hosting the 2026 Olympics is largely touted as a strong benefit in the discussion. Wanting to know what business owners really think, we were inspired to conduct a survey on the topic.
Why is surveying business owners important?
Organizations in Calgary have had a tough break over the last few years. And that’s putting it lightly. If the 2026 Olympics in Calgary go ahead, Calgarians will see a lot of investment in to the games. Including a lot of tax spend. Ensuring a positive ROI (return on investment) is top of mind to a lot of parties.
Gainful employment in Calgary contributes to the overall tax base, therefore the sentiment of business owners in the city is important to add to the discussion. However, we recognize this isn’t the only consideration.
Business Support for the 2026 Calgary Olympics Bid
Fifty-three percent of respondents are personally in favour of Calgary bidding on the 2026 olympics. However, 14.5% of people are still undecided. If this reflects the overall sentiment towards the bid in Calgary, the plebiscite could be a tight race.
What was more interesting: 9.5% of business owners who believe the Olympics would positively impact their business are personally unsure about their personal support for the Olympic bid.
What Small Businesses Think
Small businesses (less than 4 employees) account for 95% of businesses in Calgary. It’s one of the fastest growing segments of business in the city and is also one of the largest employers.
In small businesses, support for the 2026 Olympics was more evenly split: 43% were for the Olympics, 37% against, and 20% undecided. In addition, this group was also the most “unsure” of the possible impact of the 2026 Olympics on their business.
Impact on Business
However, personal preference of organization leaders for hosting the Olympics may be different than what they believe the impact to their business may be.
We asked businesses owners what they thought the impact of Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympics would be:
- 51% believe the olympics will have a positive impact on their organization
- 35% are unsure
- 14% believe there will be a negative impact
Based on the large number of “unsure” responses, it appears as though business owners remain largely unconvinced about the potential positive or negative economic impacts hosting the olympics may have on their organization.
Organizations that have been around for 1 – 20 years were the most sure of a positive impact (56%). However, organizations over 30 years old were the most pessimistic, with 33% indicating they believed the Olympics would have a negative impact on their organization.
Economic Benefits, Impacts, and Risks to Hosting the 2026 Olympics
Increased tourism is perceived as one of the largest benefits (74%) of hosting the 2026 Olympics and one of the lowest risks (6%).
Eighty-nine percent of respondents cited the possibility of cost overruns as one of the largest risks to the olympics having a positive impact.
Interestingly, the possibility of additional employment was ranked 4th in the list of possible economic benefits, ranking below civic pride.
[90 organizations participated in the survey. We believe the results to have a 95% confidence level, margin of error 10.5%]
Updated: November 8, 2018