Hamilton Faces Hurdles Ahead Of 2030 Centennial Commonwealth Games Bid For Canada

During a three-day visit to Hamilton in the Canadian Province of Ontario, Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC) CEO David Grevemberg said the city that hosted the first edition of the Commonwealth Games in 1930 could be a “real contender” to stage the centennial event in 2030.

Tim Horton's Field in Hamilton, Ontario hosted Soccer at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton, Ontario hosted Soccer at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games

“If the planets are aligned and this looks like something that’s going to work for everybody,” Grevemberg said according to CBC.

“I think there could be some really amazing opportunities.”

“We’re really proud to call Hamilton a proud city of the Commonwealth, because the citizens and communities are really benefiting from the power of sport.”

The fledgling ‘Hamilton 100’ bid committee that formed over the past several months welcomed CGC members on a venue tour last week, and walked officials through early proposed plans for the event.

Hamilton 100 President PJ Mercanti said the visit was a stepping stone as his group works toward the presentation of a business plan to city council members in November.

Buy-in of that proposal is required before the group can meet a November 22 deadline set by the CGC requiring initial hosting plans with high-level finances and budgets along with a vision for the Games.

Then in March, the CGC will require full approvals from municipal, provincial and federal governments.

CGC Director Linda Cuthbert said several cities across Canada are interested in hosting the event.  Both Victoria in British Columbia and Edmonton in Alberta had interest in hosting the 2022 edition of the Games, but both withdrew from the running while the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) struggled to find a suitable host.

Durban in South Africa was initially chosen to host but was later stripped of the opportunity for financial reasons.  Birmingham in England was elected as a replacement.

The CGF has now opened bidding for both the 2026 and 2030 editions.

While cities are typically selected seven years in advance of the event, the CGF has indicated it will delay the awarding of the 2026 Games as it absorbs delays experienced while finding a replacement for Durban for the 2022 edition.  It’s possible that the 2026 Games – and the 2030 event – could be sited simultaneously next year.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games were staged in Gold Coast, Australia.

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games are underway in Australia (GC 2018 Photo)

Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia (GC 2018 Photo)

Hamilton 100 is focusing only on the 2030 centennial opportunity but CGC could pursue the 2026 Games with another city.  Canadian cities Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton will be hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup along with United States and Mexico, which could limit interest in the earlier Games.

Originally dubbed the British Empire Games when Hamilton first played host in 1930, the centennial event is seen as an opportunity to showcase how the city has developed over 100 years and how the Games could serve as a catalyst for community change.

But Cuthbert downplayed the milestone as an advantage in the bid process.

“For [the CGF] it’s going to be the 100th anniversary no matter where it’s held,” she said.

To get there, Hamilton 100 will have to convince the city council that risks are minimal to taxpayers and that the benefits are measurable.  Mercanti said a hard focus will be on legacies of youth sport programs and affordable housing.

He added that new operating models and efficiencies put in place by the CGF will help reduce the cost of hosting the Games, lowering the burden on city residents.

Hamilton played host to the soccer tournament at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, using the newly constructed Tim Horton’s Field that also served as the much-needed new home for the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League (CFL).  Other Toronto 2015 venues across the shared region, including those for track cycling and rowing, could be leveraged to keep costs low.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.