Multiple city plan likely for future NZ Games bid
IAN ANDERSON IN GLASGOW
A New Zealand bid to host a future Commonwealth Games may not centre on one city.
New Zealand Olympic Committee president Mike Stanley this week told the Sunday Star-Times he was ''absolutely sure'' that the country would host another Games - for the fourth time in the event's varied history since inception in 1930.
But rather than be held solely in Auckland or Christchurch, venues and hosting could be spread out, with the upper half of the North Island a realistic option.
Stanley said there were no concrete plans in place for a bid, with the Gold Coast in Australia to play host in four years' time while Edmonton and Durban are bidding rights for the 2022 Games.
Yet should there be a desire to host, coupled with support from central and local government in funding, then a variety of Games venues may provide superior and more affordable infrastructure.
''That is a possibility,'' Stanley said.
''It hasn't really been done before in a significant way for a Commonwealth Games, although there were satellite sites at the Beijing Olympics.
''Certainly that could take place. I think with the team sports there's a possibility of hosting some games in regional centres, so it could be more of a New Zealand Games than a single city Games.
''There's obviously some costs associated with that as well, and we haven't done any detailed thinking on that, but principally I can't see why it wouldn't work.''
A spread of venues could feature Vector Arena, Trusts Stadium, Mt Smart and Eden Park in Auckland, Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton, the Avantidrome in Cambridge, mountain biking in Rotorua and even rowing at Lake Karapiro, should the host country include it as a sport.
It's understood Wales is also exploring a bid for 2026 that would feature joint host cities in Cardiff, Newport and Swansea.
''People have to look creatively at this,'' Stanley agreed.
''The Commonwealth is made up of a vast number of many small nations and there's only a number of us who can host the Games, so there needs to be innovative thinking.''
Stanley emphasised no formal bid was being worked on.
''We had a look a few years ago and did quite a bit of investigation with Auckland council and others to assess the viability for a Games.
"Auckland's got venues that could host most Games events, but there are issues around a village, and then operation costs,'' he said.
''Given the stage that Auckland was, going through organisation as a council, the challenging financial times - it was really parked at that point.
"We haven't done any significant work since - there's been some conversations between some key people but you couldn't describe that as a process.''
A successful bid would take close to a decade between launching and hosting, Stanley said, making 2026 the earliest New Zealand could play host - 36 years after Auckland was our last host city.
''If you want to do it properly I think you're getting close to that [timeframe].'' Stanley said funding and infrastructure were the major hurdles to hosting.
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