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Hamilton’s revised 2026 Commonwealth Games bid gains momentum

PJ Mercanti, Hamilton 100 president, welcomed officials with the International Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Canada in August to explore a 2030 games bid in Hamilton, Ont.
PJ Mercanti, Hamilton 100 president, welcomed officials with the International Commonwealth Games Federation and Commonwealth Games Canada in August to explore a 2030 games bid in Hamilton, Ont. Ken Mann / Global News

Mayor Fred Eisenberger says he is receptive to a change in structure and timeline involving Hamilton’s Commonwealth Games bid.

A local group of businesspeople and volunteers that has been working to bring the 2030 Games to Hamilton confirms it has shifted its focus to a scaled-down 2026 proposal.

READ MORE: Commonwealth Games 2026 option now up for discussion in Hamilton, Ont., says community group

The group — formally known as Hamilton 100 in recognition of the city’s hosting of the original British Empire Games, the precursor to the Commonwealth Games, in 1930 — is now registered as the Hamilton 2026 Commonwealth Games Bid Corporation.

Bid spokesperson Lou Frapporti expects to put the details of the new proposal before city council in the coming weeks, adding that it is “more modest in size” with a reduced number of events and athletes in order to reduce costs.

The estimated cost of the 2030 proposal when it was presented to Hamilton city council was over $1.4 billion, with the city’s share estimated to be in the $250 million to $300 million range.

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Frapporti says the federal government has informed the group it is prepared to support the 2026 bid, if the province does likewise, and his group believes “there’s a very good possibility that this can happen.”

READ MORE: Hamilton council endorses 2030 Commonwealth Games bid

Frapporti stresses that it was the Commonwealth Games Federation that “approached us and are working very closely with us to see if we can put on those ’26 Games.”

He describes it as an opportunity that Hamilton can’t afford to lose because it would assist in the post-pandemic economic recovery through “investment, development and employment.”

Mayor Eisenberger acknowledges that “2026 doesn’t have the kind of 100th anniversary cache that the 2030 date would have,” but if there’s an economic advantage and improved chance of success, he says “there’s absolute merit” in considering the proposal.

He adds that will ultimately be a city council decision.