News » Whistler

Nordic site development costs pegged at $100 million



Building the Nordic centre in the Callaghan Valley will cost up to $100 million, according to the latest calculations by the 2010 Olympic Bid Corporation.

The site, near Alexandra Falls, will include a system of trails for cross country competition, ski jumps, a stadium for events and perhaps even the luge and bob sled tracks.

While the price tag seems hefty the terrain will actually help to keep costs down, as ski jumps can be constructed using natural contours.

"The ski jumps can be built without towers by actually using the slope of the terrain for the in-run and landing," said Richard Way, the manager of technical sports for the Vancouver Whistler 2010 Bid Corporation.

"And the terrain in there allows us to have competitive cross country trails... Those are pretty special characteristics."

The Bid also plans to keep the development "green" and plans on having cross country trail lights powered by the sun and a host of other initiatives which will mean long term benefits when it comes to cost.

It will cost up to $265 million to build the must-have facilities for the Games, including an ice arena, a speed-skating rink, a curling rink, bobsled and luge track, and a Nordic event centre.

There are no estimates available yet for the athletes village, said bid spokesman Sam Corea, as it has yet to be decided how and where the athletes will be housed.

Nor are there estimates for the cost of the infrastructure changes, including improved transportation routes, and upgrades to convention centres.

The corporation has raised more than half of what it expects the bid portion of the games to cost. Total bid cost is expected to be $23 million.

To date just over $17 million has been raised. Of that $2.5 million dollars came from the federal government, the rest has come from Crown corporations, the provincial government, corporate sponsors such as Molsons, and private donations.

In some cases supporters have offered services rather than cash. But, said Corea, "all support is welcome no matter what forms it comes in."

Two weeks ago Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced official support for the Vancouver Whistler bid, but no money.

He said most of the funding would be announced after the bid is awarded.

However, Corea is confident that money from the federal government is on its way and will be announced as the bid process continues.

"We are working with the federal secretariat now and will be seeking funding as we go forward," said Corea.

During Toronto’s bid for the 2008 summer Olympic Games the federal government gave the bid $3.6 million. Most of the money was presented to the Toronto bid after it was short-listed by the International Olympic Committee.

Toronto lost the bid to Beijing earlier this year.

The Vancouver Whistler Bid Corporation has yet to send the IOC a letter of intention to bid for the 2010 Winter Games. The informal notification is due by the end of this month.

The national Olympic committees, including Canada’s, must notify the IOC of the intent to put forward a city for 2010 by February 4, 2002.

Its unlikely the IOC will announce their short list for these Games until August 2002, with the bid awarded in July 2003.

Still, both Toronto and Vancouver were each awarded $2.5 million by the federal Canadian Tourism Commission last April.

"Normally (federal funding) doesn’t click in until the bid is actually accepted," said Len Westerberg, spokesman for the Department of Canadian Heritage.

"The bid committee will get some assistance. When their requests come in they will be examined.

"Certainly the support will be at the same level as past Olympics."

But in the "bid Olympics" money talks. The IOC insists on ironclad guarantees for their Games, which can cost billions of dollars.

The event facilities must be mapped out and funding guaranteed to get the Olympics.

But the IOC will also be looking at improvements to the highway between Vancouver and Whistler and other transportation corridors, such as to and from the Vancouver International Airport, and expansion of convention facilities to house the thousands of media and other support services needed to run a successful Games.

On top of that there will be a potentially huge cost in policing and security and immigration, a cost which the federal government promised to pick up when Toronto was competing for the 2008 Games.

Ontario also said it would pay for security and agreed to clear up any deficit that might arise out of the Toronto Games.

It is estimated that it will cost $1.2 billion to run the 2010 Winter Games, if the Vancouver bid is successful.

Revenues, from television, ticket sales and merchandise are expected to bring in $1.5 billion.

If all goes well the money left over will be funnelled into legacies in support of sport and athletes.