Hopes were renewed Wednesday that Hamilton in Canada could bid to host the 2030 Commonwealth Games one-hundred years after the city inaugurated the British Empire Games, the former name of the event.
Hamilton City Council voted 13-0 to allow a private sector group known as Hamilton 100 to study and prepare bid plans that will need to be submitted to Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) by November 22. Under the agreement, the group will cover the costs of this work estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of Canadian dollars.
A proposal and memorandum of understanding will be presented to City Council in November.
This is a surprising turn of events after the city’s Council in 2017 voted against any possible plans of bidding, rejecting the projected costs of the project and risks to the taxpayers.
The Ontario city, about 70 km from Toronto, hosted soccer matches that were part of the 2015 Pan Am Games. According to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, the Pan Am Games helped the city replace its aging football stadium and the new Tim Horton’s Field is home to the Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger Cats.
The Hamilton 100 group is led by P.J. Mercanti, the CEO of a Hamilton-based Carmen’s Group, an entertainment and hospitality company. In March, Mercanti presented his new vision to City Council that would allow Hamilton to pursue a privately funded bid.
“It would truly allow us to transform this city to become a sports destination,” Mercanti said.
“Let’s swing for the fences to do everything we can to set our children up for success.”
Wednesday’s unanimous vote will allow the group to engage with CGC and move forward with plans.
“This gives us the green light to prepare the business plan,” Mercanti said.
Mercanti outlined progress that has already been made, indicating the CGC officials will travel to Hamilton for a tour in July.
He said that Hamilton is currently the only city in Canada preparing a bid for the Games. Edmonton in Alberta was forced to withdraw a 2022 Commonwealth Games bid after falling oil prices made plans too risky, and city council subsequently rejected plans to bid again for 2026 to instead focus on the FIFA World Cup scheduled that year. Victoria in British Columbia prepared plans to host in 2022 but later dropped from the race.
CGC has been long encouraging Hamilton to bid for the sentimental centennial Games and the city would have a clear advantage over any other Canadian entry.
“The 100th anniversary is a once in a generation opportunity,” Mercanti said.
The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) was scheduled to name a 2026 host city in September, but the organization has admitted that the decision will be delayed until next spring in order to find the right partner. Adelaide in Australia is the only serious candidate.
The CGF indicated that the 2026 and 2030 Games could be awarded at the same time, meaning a 2030 host city may be declared in 2020.
Durban in South Africa was awarded the 2022 edition of the Games but was stripped of the event by the CGF in 2017 after failing to meet financial deadlines. Birmingham in England was named as a replacement host for the event last year.