Calgary secures rights to host ESPN’s X Games

Expected to bring $75 million in annual economic activity and draw 75,000 spectators, 10,000 from out of town

Mario ToneguzziCalgary has secured the exclusive Canadian rights to host X Games for a minimum three-year run.

They are being developed by Manifesto Sport Management, a Calgary based sport marketing and management company, and Insight Productions, a Canadian broadcast production company that has produced the Juno Awards and the Amazing Race Canada.

Tourism Calgary said it has pursued this event for almost a decade.

“We’re excited to be taking this step towards hosting the first X Games on Canadian snow,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi in a statement. “It’s about bringing Calgary to a world stage. The economic spinoffs are significant, and support our plans for tourism and economic development.”

According to Tourism Calgary, ESPN’s X Games, which began in 1995,  have become the leading action sports and music festival, spotlighting the world’s best action sports athletes in BMX, skateboard and moto X at the X Games; and skiing, snowboard and snowmobile at the winter version of the X Games against the backdrop of each individual host city.

“Beginning in 2013, X Games evolved from an action sports competition into one of the most complete youth culture experiences available with an enhanced sport, music, gaming and festival lineup. With relevance to contemporary youth around the world, this expansion highlighted new locations and enhanced cultural and digital elements around the world. Complementing the sports with the world’s top musical performers, X Games Music has featured performances by world-class artists including Metallica, Kanye West, Tiesto, Nicki Minaj, Macklemore and many more.

“Over the past two decades, the X Games has successfully organized action sports events, qualifiers and demonstrations around the globe in countries including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Spain, France, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Singapore, Taiwan, Philippines and UAE,” explained Tourism Calgary, adding that the games would bring in an estimated $75 million in annual economic activity, 75,000 annual spectators and more than 10,000 out-of-region annual visitors.

Calgary is targeting to host the X Games beginning in late February or early March of 2020, 2021 and 2022, subject to securing corporate sponsorship.

“Securing the exclusive Canadian rights to X Games is a tremendous step for Calgary. It offers us a great opportunity to continue to work with our community partners to bring this event to our city,” says Cindy Ady, CEO of Tourism Calgary. “Hosting X Games has long been a goal of Tourism Calgary as it would further solidify our position as Canada’s winter sport capital and further our reputation of being the ultimate host city. With today’s announcement, we’re one step closer to making that a reality.”

Mario Toneguzzi is a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary. He writes for Calgary’s Business.


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