Olympic Games Create Budget Concerns for Vancouver

VancouverYesterday I blogged about how some former Olympic host cities are still reaping the benefits for welcoming the Games. But this year, some are wondering if Vancouver's benefits from the 2010 Winter Olympics will make up for its losses.

In preparation for this year's Games, Vancouver incurred some major expenses. Among them are the C$1 billion residential waterfront complex being used for athlete accommodations, an C$885 million expansion to the Vancouver Convention Centre, a C$2 billion rapid transit line from the city to the airport and additional athlete facilities.

"There has been a budget deficit which the taxpayer has been obliged to fill," Simon Chadwick, professor of Sport Business at Coventry University in the UK, recently told BBC News. "I think Vancouver has been caught by surprise by the global economic downturn, and did not have a coherent contingency plan in place to deal with it. Some costs increased—there is always the probability that can happen on projects like this, but on top of that there was the global economic downturn, causing a double whammy."

Still, the Olympic Games will not be without any benefits. The Vancouver Convention Centre is expected to have its best year ever in 2011, while a report from the province of British Columbia cited that over 2,000 jobs were created between 2003 and 2008, according to BBC News. And of course, there's the major advantage of putting city on the world stage.

"The games are a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring Canada's tourism brand... to two billion viewers around the globe thanks to the extraordinary international media coverage," Susan Iris of the Canadian Tourism Commission told BBC News. "We're making the most of this chance to show the world why they should visit Canada now."

But with a possible drop in sponsorship cash and potential lower-than-expected economic impact, some still have their doubts.

"Questions are being asked about the whether the benefits to be gained will outweigh the cost of the event," Chadwick said. "What Vancouver has got is not a profitable event, rather what they have is a showcase. But has hosting a showcase event been overshadowed by the costs involved?"
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