ASSIGNMENT:

Could Christchurch host the Games again?

DAVID LIM
Last updated 11:21 28/07/2014
commonwealth games
Fairfax NZ

GAME ON: Christchurch last hosted the Commonwealth Games in 1974 - is the city ready for another one?

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Should Christchurch host the Commonwealth Games again?

Yes, what a fantastic idea

Only if it doesn't add to our rates bill

No, we have far more important things to focus on

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Could Christchurch host the Games again?

Could New Zealand ever host the Commonwealth Games again?

Amidst all the debate as to whether the Games are still relevant or whether they can continue into the next decade, the fact remains that New Zealand has a much better chance of hosting the Games than the summer or winter Olympics.

In this post-global financial crisis age, nations and cities are more cautious about making bids for the likes of the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. This is not surprising since the costs of hosting the games have spiralled out of control in recent times - look at the money spent by Russia on the recent 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Nevertheless, after recent experiences hosting the Rugby World Cup and future events like the Cricket World Cup and Fifa U-20 World Cup next year, New Zealand's appetite for hosting top-level sport is very much there, backed by a strong and growing economy.

Furthermore, it has three cities that could realistically host the Commonwealth Games in the near future - Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

For me, I guess, Wellington is the least favourite given the lack of space in the region - it could partner with Palmerston North and host the Games - by 2026, the route from Palmerston North to Wellington should be top-notch with the Kapiti Coast and Transmission Gully highways completed, along with roadworks to the airport.

Auckland would be considered favourite to host the Games given it is our largest city, has the most free land, has our international airport and has quite a few facilities already, ready to host the Games. Plus, Auckland's unified council means decision-making shouldn't be a problem as it was prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

I guess what might count against it is that Auckland was the last New Zealand city to host the Commonwealth Games - back in 1990.

Hence, I reckon Christchurch - a city on the rise, a city very much under construction and badly needing new stadiums and sports facilities to replace those damaged by the earthquake - could be New Zealand's choice city to host the Games in about 12 years.

Indeed, Cantabs won't need to wait 12 years for those new sports facilities to come up but hosting the Games could be a great initiative to get those facilities sooner rather than later. Plus, it would fit within the Government's plan for the reborn CBD district, a sports district in the southeast corner of the CBD plus an adjacent Olympic village which could really regenerate the south of the city, which has been left abandoned as a result of the quakes of 2010 and 2011.

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The problem, I guess, is that the Christchurch City Council is in the red and far too occupied with more pressing matters, such as rebuilding the city and trying to get through a backlog of claims with the EQC, which will probably only be solved in 2016.

It means any bid for the Commonwealth Games will have to be footed by central government (unlikely under this National Government even with the impending surplus) or a private consortium (very difficult to do).

If Christchurch needed that new roofed stadium along with new swimming pools, hockey park, athletics fields, housing etc, this would be the perfect excuse. 

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