This story put a smile on my face.

In 2014, I attended the athletics portion of the Commonwealth Games and fell in love with Glasgow and the Commonwealth Games. Stuart Weir was one of my daily companions in Glasgow. I had haggis daily, made differently at Johnson’s Dugout, right near Ehotel! 

One day, Stuart and I convinced a dozen Scottish media that the US would again join the CG and compete! Also, at the event, Ben Cesar convinced me that I had an interview with Zamunda’s 4x100m relay team. Took me a year, and my son, Adam, reminded me that Zamunda was a fake country from Eddie Murphy’s Going to America. 

I am still working on proper retribution.

We look forward to seeing our friend from Oxford, England, Stuart Weir, very soon! 

Does the Commonwealth Games have a future after all?

Two interesting pieces of information crossed my desk this week. Remember the context. Melbourne and Victoria, the host of the 2026 Commonwealth Games, withdrew, saying that it was too expensive. Then another Australian city, Gold Coast, the 2018 host, threw its hat in the ring before its state government vetoed it, saying that there would be no public money to support them. Then it was reported that the Commonwealth Games Federation had offered $125 million to Malaysia to host the games, but they declined.

Go Jamaica! Sally Ann Fraser Pryce, CG 2014, photo by Martin Bateman

 

Then, this week, it was reported that Birmingham, host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, estimated that the games had contributed $1.5 billion to the UK economy, with nearly half of the money benefiting Birmingham and the West Midlands. The games certainly were a spectacular success with 1.5 million tickets sold and taking track and field in particular, filling a 28,000-capacity stadium even for morning sessions – in a year that the World Championships in Oregon could not sell out, was it 12,000 capacity for evening sessions?

One other piece of detail you need to have in the back of your mind is that for the Commonwealth Games, there is not a British team but separate teams representing England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Sally Pearson, Commonwealth Games 2014, photo by Martin Bateman

In that context, Commonwealth Games Scotland (CGS) announced “the development of an innovative concept that could provide a solution for the 2026 Commonwealth Games without significant public investment”.  CGS explained the unique Scottish context, that the “Commonwealth Games is crucial to the health of Scottish sport; the four-yearly event is the pinnacle for several sports and represents the only chance for many athletes to compete for Scotland on a global stage”. CGS said that its priority was to ensure that a 2026 game took place

Their concept includes:

Significantly reduced budget costing $160-190 million, with no significant ask of public funds.
The core sports program of 10-13 sports in an 11-day sporting competition in July/August 2026.
Use of existing sporting venues and accommodation options rather than developing new purpose-built facilities.

Commonwealth Games Scotland commissioned a feasibility study in December 2023 to assess Scotland’s viability as a cost-effective alternative host. This followed the Commonwealth Games Federation’s decision to make $125 million available to host nations for a 2026 Games as part of the Victoria settlement agreement. In addition to the $125m, the event would be funded through commercial income (ticketing, sponsorship, broadcasting, etc.).

The games would be held in Glasgow, which hosted the 2014 games and “has a range of excellent facilities developed for Glasgow 2014 and other events. Some overlay may be required in venues (e.g., temporary stands, surface work, etc), but there is no requirement for new facilities to be built”. The concept assumes the use of existing accommodation options, mainly hotels, rather than developing a purpose-built Games village.

An exciting prospect

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