After being announced in early 2019 that Calgary, Alberta would host the Winter X Games from 2020 until 2022, it has now been confirmed that the extreme sports event will not be held there anymore due to a lack of funding.
Most people in Calgary were happy when officials said in March that the city had secured the exclusive rights to host the X Games for a three-year run. And how could they not be? Hosting an X Games event means bringing a lot of fun and attention to the city, and therefore a lot of tourism-related activity. For a city like Calgary, which wants to boost its winter tourism economy, that sounded like the perfect plan for this (and the upcoming) winters.
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Unfortunately, the dream is over. Alberta’s provincial government announced on October 31st that they wouldn’t be funding any X Games event for next year nor the following years. This comes as a surprise, even though they had been suspicious about not wanting to fund the event for the year 2020.
“We’re disappointed. We’re really disappointed,” Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady said Thursday. “We really did think this was a very, very good project for Calgary. We still feel strongly that it’s a good project for Calgary.”
According to Tourism Calgary, the official marketing and development organization for Calgary’s tourism industry, X Games were going to contribute $75 million annually to Calgary’s economy, with 75,000 annual spectators. Hosting these events would also create 540 jobs each year. Naheed Nenshi, Calgary’s major said this would have been a “massive economic impact for the city.”
“It’s hard to get people to Calgary year-round, the whole point of the X Games was to bring people in at what is a traditionally slow time of year for tourism”, Nenshi said to the press.
The whole financial issue goes back to March 2019, when the former provincial government, Alberta’s New Democratic Party (NDP) committed to supporting the event with a $13,5 million investment. Now the current government, the United Conservative Party (UCP), stepped out of that commitment. Tanya Fir, current Minister for Economic Development, Trade, and Tourism, said that their government was making prudent decisions with taxpayer dollars and they hoped that the private sector would step up to provide enough sponsorship for X Games.
A private source of funding would be amazing and very helpful for Calgary’s tourism, however, it is not very likely.
The X Games is a sports event produced by ESPN and has been around since 1995. Over the years it has turned into a well known international event not only for extreme sports but also for music and cultural activities.
Over the last 10 years, Aspen’s Winter X Games have successfully brought over 100,000 people, each year, to the Aspen Area. That is not only great for the sport but for the tourism industry as well.
Winter X games for 2020 are confirmed in Aspen Snowmass (USA) and Secret Garden Resort (China). ESPN has said that although an event in Calgary can not be confirmed, they are still looking for new possible locations, including other cities in Canada.