A Hamilton city council committee voted 10-3 Wednesday to endorse the Canadian city’s bid to host the 100th anniversary Commonwealth Games in 2030.
The city council is expected to rubber-stamp the endorsement letter February 26 clearing a path for the bid to meet a March 9 ‘phase 2’ Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) deadline for submitting required documents.
CGC has also set a March 31 date to nominate a Canadian city to bid for the Games before seeking financial support from the Province of Ontario and Canadian governments.
Last month CGC indicated that only two bids are in the hunt to host an upcoming Commonwealth Games; Hamilton’s quest to host the centennial of the inaugural Games that were held in the same city, and one other unnamed group. However, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has since indicated that it is a private group in his city that has shown interest in bidding for the 2026 edition.
The bid is being driven by a private group of businesses and citizens dubbed ‘Hamilton 100’, a nod to the centennial year of the event. They have estimated that the cost of the Games will be CAD $1.425 billion (USD $1.08 billion), with CAD $300 million (USD $227 million) coming from city coffers and the remaining split between provincial and federal partners.
City Councillors are generally supportive of the bid while city staff are more cautious.
After spending much of the weekend preparing for Wednesday’s city council presentation, city finance head Mike Zegarac said “there is limited resource capacity to deliver on this scope of work.”
“And other projects may have to be deferred for us to direct our limited resources to meet our obligations to this project,” he told CBC.
Councillor Tom Jackson expressing urgency said “I don’t want to be a loser a third time.”
Hamilton lost a 2010 bid when it collected only 22 votes to Delhi’s 46. The city was then passed over when CGC selected Halifax to bid for the 2014 Games instead. Halifax later dropped out of that race clearing the way for the Games to be hosted in Glasgow, Scotland.
Hamilton 100 CEO PJ Mercanti said “we owe it to [the children] to leave them with a better city than we inherited, and not only with great new facilities.”
Councillor John-Paul Danko voted against signing the endorsement, suggesting that there was no point continuing with the process if the city doesn’t plan to see it all the way through.
Birmingham, England is set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games after the city was chosen to replace Durban when the South African city was stripped of the opportunity for missing financial deadlines.
It is unclear when the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will name its 2030 host city, though the organization has committed to electing the 2026 host later this year and has hinted that the 2030 Games might be awarded at the same time.
International interest in hosting the 2026 and 2030 Games has been limited, and if approved, Hamilton’s bid would be a heavy favorite to be elected.