Becoming an Ultimate Sports City – Event Strategy | Case studies – Calgary


The 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship Bronze Medal game between Canada and Finland, in Calgary – Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) is responsible for bidding for sports events for Calgary and is reflective of the city’s pervasive sporting culture. The CSTA is a collaboration of leaders in sport, business, government and tourism who are mandated to provide advice, due diligence and strategic direction in evaluating and attracting major and non-major sports events to Calgary.

The CSTA was established in 2005 and aims to develop Calgary into a globally-recognised host city and the preferred sports destination in Canada. Since 2007, the CSTA has supported, led or endorsed bids for more than 250 national and international events. These have produced significant social, grassroots sports and community benefits, as well as facility legacies and economic activity.

The CSTA approaches the attraction of major sporting events through a long-term and progressive strategic vision with a disciplined adherence to responsible investing and a rigorous cost, benefit and risk analysis.

Events secured

The CSTA has held to a proactive and progressive major events strategy that has garnered steadily growing results for Calgary over the past nine years, typified by the hosting of events such as the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship. Based on the event selection criteria developed by the CSTA, members work together to evaluate and recommend events to be pursued and supported that will achieve a range of sport and civic objectives.

At the heart of the strategy is a mission to increase Calgary’s capacity for bidding to host sports events. The CSTA defines capacity as the sum of developing a proactive bidding framework; enhancing public and private sector support; fostering local champions; strategically building a local, national and international network in the world of sport; and influencing the development and restoration of sports facilities.

Strategic priorities

The CSTA adheres to the following strategic priorities:

  • Raise awareness of services and provide a single point of market entry for rights-owners.
  • Promote the value of event tourism to all stakeholders.
  • Position Calgary as one of the premier host cities for sports events in the world.
  • Through event activation, leverage opportunities to maximise return on investment.
  • Strategically influence municipal policy to create an event-friendly and hospitable city.
  • Maintain sustainable and appropriate levels of public sector funding.
  • Cultivate private sector support and leadership.

Pulling stakeholders together

The composition of the CSTA Board is itself designed to enhance, facilitate and promote collaboration among key community stakeholders. The Board is a cross-section of leaders from The City of Calgary (Parks & Recreation), Tourism Calgary, Calgary Economic Development, the sport community including the Canadian Sport Institute, WinSport and Calgary Sports & Entertainment (owner of the Calgary Flames professional ice hockey team) and representation from the private sector (including legal, oil and gas, urban development and airport sectors).

The CSTA was founded in 2005 with the introduction of Canada’s first Municipal Civic Sport Policy. It acts as Calgary’s independent and objective body of due diligence. The CSTA makes strategic investments on behalf of the city in bid opportunities ensuring that significant risks are mitigated and that events are attracted to Calgary that will provide benefits for its citizens.

Tourism Calgary, the city’s tourism marketing organisation, recognises the ability of major events to increase visits by serving as a travel motivator and enhancing the city’s destination brand. Sport and an active city are growing components and differentiation points for Calgary’s tourism industry and a key pillar within Tourism Calgary’s marketing strategy.

Partnerships with the myriad of local, provincial and national sports organisations are a major strength for the CSTA. One such organisation, Sport Calgary, is a volunteer non-profit society representing grassroots and amateur sport in the city. The CSTA works with Sport Calgary to assist, support and influence the growth of grassroots and amateur sport. Sport Calgary initiated the Civic Sport Policy, the first of its kind in Canada, in partnership with The City of Calgary and the CSTA to guide the development and strategic priorities of sport in Calgary.

Aims of the strategy

The pursuit of community, grassroots sport, economic and legacy benefits from sports events ensures Calgary reaps the maximum benefit from the events attracted through the efforts of the CSTA and the local champions they support. The variety of benefits also justifies the ongoing support from the CSTA’s key stakeholders and bid partners.

The Authority pursues events under four guiding principles:

  • Increase economic growth through grassroots sport development
  • Direct wise spending and strategic investing
  • Instil a high level of professionalism and accountability in the evaluation, investment and bidding process
  • Create community legacies and enrich quality of life through sport, health, wellness, and recreation.

20-year strategy

The CSTA considers future national and international sports events within the context of a 20-year sports event hosting strategy that is intended to sustain and grow Calgary’s capacity as an Olympic city and world-class sport host.

The 20-year strategy includes the evaluation of requirements to stage major events in relation to the city’s current infrastructure capacity and maps out the solutions and options for meeting these needs. Event qualities are considered beyond the immediate return on investment and look to the benefits to the city’s overall event portfolio.

The CSTA is funded by the public and private sector. Event bidding expenses are primarily paid for by the CSTA. However, the organisation does offer event bidding and hosting grants to smaller, regional or national events. Events in Calgary are generally funded through three levels of government – municipal, provincial and federal.


Useful links

Calgary tourist authority's plan for 2012-14, with detail on how sports events fit into it on pages 23 to 25 (external link)


Other sections of this report

Introduction – Latest thinking and expert discussion on event strategy

Case study – Melbourne

Case study – Auckland

Case study – Copenhagen

Case study – London

Page-turner version of the full report


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