Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) officials hope the release of a new report this coming Wednesday will help convince the Canadian government, as well as municipal and provincial partners, to support a Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games bid amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hamilton 100 bid committee has been asked by the CGF to consider hosting the 2026 edition of the Games instead of its originally intended 2030 target, but while government partners had already signed off on the later date, they have yet to approve the required financial support for an earlier Games.
Securing this support could prove difficult as the economy drops into a deep recession while Ontario remains in a state of emergency due to the Coronavirus. Bid officials must also compete for funding with the 2026 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
A decision from Hamilton is expected within about six months.
The unreleased report claims Commonwealth Games host regions typically benefit from a GDP boost of at least USD $1.2 billion as well as other social and economic advantages including jobs growth. GamesBids.com has seen the comprehensive report produced by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that analyzes data from four of the previous five Games.
The CGF and Hamilton bid committee agreed to the strategic release of the report at this time, as government partners are engaged on the proposal.
“What we’re really excited about is the ability of the Hamilton bid committee in considering to host the Games in 2026, especially considering the challenging time we’re facing right now with the COVID-19 pandemic,” CGF CEO David Grevemberg told GamesBids.com Monday.
“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.”
Already beset by delays in the process, the CGF offered Hamilton in April an exclusive window to bid for the 2026 Games. Typically the Games would be awarded seven years in advance – in 2019, but the Games are now expected to be sited this year.
“There is a sense of urgency but the CGF is fully cognizant in the world we live in right now and the original dates for us to award this were later this year and we look forward to working with Hamilton around that,” Grevemberg said.
“I think that we need to be sensitive to the challenges that communities are dealing with right now so it is not oblivious to us.
“The launch of this report, we really thought it was important right now in this process to share that openly and widely, not only with Hamilton but the wider world of sport, that events like the Commonwealth Games when run with that kind of investment focus in mind can have a good track record of delivering on its promise.”
Grevemberg indicated that the CGF is in discussions with a number of cities interested in hosting future Games but wasn’t clear if any of those included 2026. He said it is a very serious discussion with Canada and he expected Hamilton will be able to make a decision within an acceptable time frame.
“I wouldn’t want to throw deadline dates at you at this point in time I think that we’re continuing to work in true partnership with a really interested city and very interesting city as well that we think has a lot of potential,” he said.
“There is a degree of urgency for Hamilton as well, to be able to make a commitment to host this event you make that commitment, you move forward and start to mobilize. There is a requirement for accelerating infrastructure or investing time, energy and money into things that decisions are made as early as possible.
“But at the same time we’re in uncharted territory in many respects so we’re certainly sensitive and agile to that and showing that this is a value-added proposition.
“What Commonwealth Sport Canada has done, they have gone through a robust process to evaluate who would be best-placed at this time,” he said.
“There are really a number of compelling reasons why we think Hamilton 2026 could be a real winner. But that’s where we’re in that dialog phase and that feasibility assessment phase right now and looking to continue those conversations.”
Grevemberg described the current bid process as more of a partnership and less of a horse race.
“This is actually ‘lets go into a partnership early’ and start to see if there is a fit.
“The aim of that is to reduce the cost in the bid process by going through this process and then after the candidature phase is the ultimate evaluation.”
“I’m really excited about forging new ground here an exploring the possibility of hosting the Commonwealth Games in Canada, in Hamilton, in 2026.”
The Hamilton bid committee has adjusted plans that were made for 2030 to fit within a 2026 Games model including a reduced budget and scaled-down event with less sports and athletes. To further cut costs, venues may be scattered across the region from Niagara to Toronto.
The next Commonwealth Games are set to be staged in Birmingham, England in 2022.