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Celebrating 50 Years: 1987

Preparation for the Olympic Games yields dividends on campus

The University of Calgary’s involvement in the 1988 Winter Olympics resulted in a wide range of impacts on campus – both obvious and not so obvious. During the Olympics, the University hosted the Athletes’ Village, providing accommodation for all 2000 officials, athletes and their support personnel. The campus was also the site for the speed skating competitions, and the opening and closing ceremonies were held at McMahon Stadium. The Dining Centre catered exclusively to the needs of the athletes, coaches and Village personnel, and the Physical Education building housed accreditation, shopping, service and medical facilities, and a press room, while the recreational facilities were used exclusively by the athletes.

In preparation to meet its responsibilities during the Games, the UofC was the beneficiary of $103 million worth of new facilities. Another $7 million was spent on renovation projects associated with the Athletes Village. Glacier and Olympus Halls were constructed, adding 140 new units to the university’s range of student residences; and Kananaskis and Rundle Halls were renovated to increase comfort and save on energy costs. The Dining Centre was renovated to improve appearance and efficiency to allow a 300% increase in productivity during the Olympics. McMahon stadium was expanded to accommodate larger audiences, and upgraded with a new sound system and artificial turf. New construction included the Olympic Volunteer Centre, major expansions to the Physical Education building, and the Olympic Oval. The university was also the beneficiary of the construction of the “Northwest Line” of the LRT -- initially intended to be constructed years earlier – which was completed in September 1987, connecting the university campus to downtown in time for the Olympics the following February.

A somewhat unexpected beneficiary of the Games was the research community. Numerous research projects, graduate theses, conferences, presentations, and courses which had ties to the Olympics were undertaken in communications studies, psychology, physical education/ kinesiology, teacher education and supervision, political science, Germanic and Slavic Studies, mechanical engineering, environmental design, management, civil engineering, medicine, fine arts, English, history, anthropology, continuing education, philosophy, and religious studies. During its construction, the Olympic Oval became the world’s only indoor laboratory for
undergraduate surveying engineering students. “We have installed 60 reflecting targets at the intersections of the roof beams inside the Oval,” Dr Krakiwsky, head of surveying engineering, explained. “The students will be able to set up their instruments at pre-determined points around the Oval’s interior perimeter and make photo-grammetric, laser and infrared distance measurements. We will even have a computer link-up so they can run their programs right there. It will be a vast improvement over the practice sessions they now run by sighting down hallways or hiking around the campus. The expansive open space inside the Oval – 26,000 square meters, 15 meters high – will give us the only indoor surveying lab in the world.”

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