Calgary secures the exclusive rights to hold the winter X Games in Canada

Big air, big rewards.

That’s what Calgary is counting on with news that it has secured the exclusive Canadian rights to host the winter X Games in this country for the first time in late February or early March of 2020, 2021 and 2022.

The announcement was made on Tuesday morning inside of the Stampede Grandstand, which will act as one of the venues for the annual extreme sporting and cultural event along with WinSport.

Ricardo Miranda, Minister of Culture and Tourism, was joined by Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Tourism Calgary’s CEO Cindy Ady as well as X athletes and individuals from Calgary-based Manifesto Sport Management and Canadian production company Insight Productions — the two companies in charge of developing the local games — to announce the “ambitious” venture.

“The Alberta government has committed $13.5 million over the next three years to bring the X Games to Calgary,” said Miranda. “This investment will bring significant economic benefits to the Calgary region and Alberta.”

The city, itself, has also pledged almost $2 million per year through Tourism Calgary to hold the games.

An artist’s rendering of what the Stampede Grandstand will look like for the X Games.

It’s expected that should Calgary host the events it will generate an estimated $75 million per year in economic activity and create more than 500 full-time jobs during that period.

But that’s only part of the benefits that should result from hosting the ESPN-broadcast games.

“This would be a fantastic opportunity to show Alberta to the world, showcasing not only our amazing athletes and facilities but our artists and culture as well,” Miranda said.

Tourism Calgary has been working on getting the X Games here for the past decade, something both the Mayor and Ady acknowledged in their comments.

“This is a really big day,” Nenshi said, “and a great day for some of the work that we have been doing in both diversifying Calgary’s economy and in focussing in a real big way how we (strengthen) our travel and tourism sector while building on things that already make us strong …

“I’m so excited that Calgary has secured the exclusive rights to hold the first X Games on Canadian snow. And we’re really excited to be taking the steps towards making that happen — it’s about bringing Calgary to the world stage.”

Other places that have hosted the event include Aspen, Shanghai, Oslo and Sydney.

The only caveat on the city earning the honours is the need to secure corporate sponsorships, which, according to organizers, has been met by “overwhelmingly positive” responses by local, national and international brands and companies.

(Photo courtesy Matt Morning / ESPN Images.)