Calgary’s Path to Ultimate Sports City

Calgary’s Path to Ultimate Sports City 

By Stewart McDonough

In January of this year, Calgary was added to the SportBusiness International 2014 Ultimate Sports Cities shortlist. The Ultimate Sports Cities awards are the de facto benchmark of sports cities around the world with acknowledgement on the list influencing decisions taken by sports federations, tour organizers and multi-sport event rights holders.

The rankings of the 30 cities will be announced at the SportAccord Convention in Antalya Belek, Turkey in April. Calgary has a variety of strengths that have been recognized by event rights holders over the years and, more recently, by SportBusiness International.

Sport is at our core, it’s in our DNA, and we care about it for the right reasons. We see sport as a way to build community, inspire youth to action and create social, facility and cultural legacies to last for generations. We have a focused strategy and the support of the public and private sectors. We are a preeminent winter sport city with the rare ability to host a diversity of major events year-round.


Sport is part of our city’s identity, our history, our source of pride and at the centre of our vision for the future. Calgarians love to participate, spectate, support and engage in sport at all levels.

  • We show up in record numbers to revel in major events:
  • Spruce Meadows’ two main events draw a combined 180,000 spectators
  • Calgary Stampede welcomes 1.1 million visitors every year
  • 100,000 people lined Calgary streets to watch the final leg of the UCI 2.1 Tour of Alberta
  • 40,000 spectators witnessed golf’s legends at the PGA Champions Tour


Calgary is at the heart of Canada’s Olympic Winter Games ambitions. 120 of Canada’s 221 member 2014 Olympic team trained or competed at WinSport Canada facilities. At the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver 20 of 26 Canadian medals were won by athletes who honed their skills at WinSport. The path to Canadian Winter Olympic gold runs through Calgary. Canada holds the record for most gold medals in a single Winter Olympics and hopes are again high for 2014.

We have hosted 32 World Cup or international winter sport events from 2010 to 2013. Few cities in the world, if any, can host freestyle aerials, moguls, halfpipe, skeleton, luge, bobsleigh, speed skating, hockey, sledge hockey and curling World Cups or major international events within city limits and Nordic and alpine World Cups within an hour from those same city limits.


We claim winter as our domain, and yet our energy is boundless. We are the world’s horse capital with new events every year, Spruce Meadows, the Calgary Stampede, major ranches in close proximity and herds of wild horses still roaming the surrounding prairies. New major anchored summer events with the UCI 2.1 Tour of Alberta and Shaw Charity Classic PGA Champions Tour join Spruce Meadows, the Calgary Stampede and a host of incredibly well attended summer festivals as Calgarians quench their thirst for action.

Strategy, purpose and looking forward

We attract events for the right reasons. We care about sport, we care about what it can do for children, how it can break down barriers and how it unites and lifts. It’s our experience that sport organizations care about their sport, the growth of their sport, the reputation of their sport, and yes the financial viability of their sport

We have established a national best-practice model in the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority for attracting major events. The CSTA strategy has proven successful with more than 250 events supported since 2007 resulting in far reaching community, grassroots sport, economic and legacy.

The CSTA strategy is founded in collaboration; it is passionate,   progressive and selective; and devoted to the delivery of the broad range of benefits derived from hosting major sport events. 

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