City Council in Hamilton, Canada will listen to a new presentation from the 2026 Commonwealth Games bid team in August just weeks ahead of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) deadline to secure government support for the proposed event.
Councilors had been behind a bid to host the 2030 centennial edition of the Games that was inaugurated in the Ontario city, but last year the CGF asked organizers to consider 2026 instead due to a lack of other credible proposals and a tight timeline. Last week the CGF told the bid committee that the clock would run out on Hamilton’s “exclusive” 2026 opportunity if it could not secure guaranteed government funding by the end of September.
On Monday, councilors voted 11 to five to hear the updated pitch on August 10.
The bid committee would also need to secure support from the provincial and federal governments – big asks as both governments remain firmly focused on COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger is optimistic that public costs to organize the Games would be low, and he told CBC “all the private sector efforts being put into this and significant amounts of money being spent doesn’t require our approval but does require us to understand and appreciate everything that’s on the table at this moment.”
“My belief is [the bid committee is] doing everything humanly possible to almost make it a zero-cost scenario for the municipality, so before we all dig in our heels and start suggesting erroneous costs and ‘one thing is going to replace another,’ you don’t even know that yet.”
But not all councilors agree.
Councilor Brad Clark asked “why is no one else competing for 2026? What do other cities know that we don’t know?”
“I suspect it’s because all the money we spent on COVID. The COVID-19 deficit is (CAD) $60 million [in Hamilton] currently and could hit $122 million.”
Other councilors expressed concerns that preparations for the Commonwealth Games would take precedent over other critical infrastructure projects if the bid is accepted.
In May the CGF released a report that suggested recent Commonwealth Games helped produce measurable economic growth to the host communities. CGF CEO David Grevemberg told GamesBids.com that hosting the Games could drive the COVID-19 recovery process.
He said “this report can aid some of that discussion around how can a sport event be used on issues around recovery, resetting and really reforming a city and getting things back on track and I really do think there are a lot of real compelling elements to the value framework which will help with that discussion.”
If Hamilton opts out of the 2026 edition, the bid committee said it will revert back to the 2030 bid where it would likely remain a top contender. As for the CGF – it would be forced to find another qualified candidate with less than six years until the opening ceremony.