On September 30, 1981, Calgary was awarded the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. This announcement transformed Calgary from a small oil and gas city in the province of Alberta that was best known for the Calgary Stampede, into an international destination that would soon become known throughout the world.
Beginning almost immediately, Calgary started construction on many of the venues that would be needed to be built to accommodate 1423 athletes from around the world that would be coming to our city to participate in 46 events. Among the biggest venues that would need to be completed were the iconic Saddledome as well as the Olympic Oval, which would be completed on the campus of the University of Calgary. This construction boom helped Calgary become known as an international destination for everything from tourism to trade to new residents coming to our city for new opportunities.
In the years after the hugely successful Olympic Games, many large corporations such as CP Rail moved their head offices to Calgary because it was an ideal city to work and live. As such, the population of Calgary grew extensively. With this new growth in population, many new accommodations were needed for the many new citizens flocking to the city. New communities were built, extending the city lines. Record numbers of new apartment style condominiums were also started with many helping to change the look of the Calgary skyline into what we enjoy today.
Now that there is talk of bringing the 2026 Winter Olympics to Calgary, there is much anticipation as to whether Calgary can recreate the 1988 “Magic” not just for a successful Olympics, but also for the economic benefits that were experienced after the 88 games.
There is hope among many citizens that any new venue or housing project would again continue to be used after the games end and help the city of Calgary user in a new era of prosperity in business, housing, and population growth.
While it might be too early to anticipate what will happen with this new Olympic bid, the hope among many of our peers is that this will again transform the landscape of Calgary for generations to come.