Could New Zealand host the Games?

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - BEN STRANG

Opin­ion: It has been 28 years since New Zealand last hosted the premier sport­ing event in the Com­mon­wealth.

Auck­land was the host in 1990 when the Com­mon­wealth Games last came to New Zealand, with 2000 ath­letes from 55 na­tions storm­ing the city dur­ing the height of sum­mer.

In four years, Birm­ing­ham will host the Games for the first time, and next year the rights to the 2026 and 2030 Games will be up for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Af­ter a long break, it’s time for New Zealand to again host the Com­mon­wealth Games. It would prove our most suc­cess­ful Games ever.

SOUNDS GREAT, BUT HOW?

Glad you asked. The Games would be jointly hosted by Auck­land and Hamil­ton, us­ing as many ex­ist­ing venues as pos­si­ble.

There would be two big ticket items that would need to be paid for in or­der to host these Games. One would solve an is­sue we’ve had with sport­ing sta­dia in Auck­land, and the other would, po­ten­tially, ease some of the hous­ing is­sues we have in the city.

You’ve prob­a­bly guessed it, but Auck­land would get a world class sta­dium ca­pa­ble of host­ing the ath­let­ics meet.

Imag­ine the sort of sta­dium which could also host rugby and cricket and more when the Games are through. It may even have a roof, who knows.

But the kicker is that it doesn’t have to be brand new. A water­front sta­dium would be fan­tas­tic, but a less ex­pen­sive op­tion would be to re­fur­bish Mount Smart Sta­dium into some­thing truly spe­cial.

It hosted the Com­mon­wealth Games ath­let­ics meet back in 1990, and al­though it ap­pears a lit­tle run down at the mo­ment, it’s the log­i­cal place for a sta­dium re­build to take place.

That will be a ma­jor cost, but it’s a cost that is needed in or­der to host an event of this mag­ni­tude. Then comes the ath­letes vil­lage. Pic­ture an ath­letes vil­lage in south-west Auck­land ca­pa­ble of hous­ing around 4000 peo­ple. With events also oc­cur­ring fur­ther south, in Hamil­ton, not all ath­letes would be in the vil­lage, so there wouldn’t be a need for new ac­com­mo­da­tion for 5000 plus peo­ple.

Once the Games were com­plete, the ath­letes vil­lage would be turned into hous­ing for the peo­ple of Auck­land.

Every­one seeks the white picket fence and a back­yard for the dog, but this stylish apart­ment com­plex will hint at the fu­ture Auck­land needs when deal­ing with a hous­ing cri­sis.

If done right, the vil­lage will have around 700-800 apart­ments, and if rules are put in place for the sale of these apart­ments, firsthome buy­ers will be front of the queue to pur­chase them.

THAT’S COOL, BUT YOU PROMISED MEDALS

Ahh, yes. How would these Games be New Zealand’s most suc­cess­ful ever? That comes down to the sports we would get to se­lect as hosts.

There are a num­ber of core sports at the Com­mon­wealth Games. Ath­let­ics, swim­ming, bad­minton, box­ing, hockey, lawn bowls, net­ball, rugby sev­ens, squash and weightlift­ing are peren­nial Com­mon­wealth Games sports.

It’s then that the host na­tion can get cre­ative, and se­lect from a list of ‘‘op­tional’’ sports to add to their Games.

In the past, row­ing, sail­ing and ca­noe­ing were op­tional sports. While the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion have rel­e­gated those three sports, a Games or­gan­iser could still ne­go­ti­ate to have them in­cluded.

Fi­nally, New Zealand get to make the most of the ath­letes which dom­i­nate at the Olympic Games, but can’t find a place when the Queen gets in­volved.

Lake Kara­piro would be hum­ming for the en­tirety of the Games, while sail­ing would de­but in the wa­ter near Ran­gi­toto. We play to our strengths.

With sev­eral pow­er­houses out of the mix (Nor­way, Croa­tia, France, Ger­many, the United States, you name them), New Zealand have even more chance to dom­i­nate the sports which make us so suc­cess­ful when the Olympic Games role around.

We’d also rein­tro­duce cricket to the Com­mon­wealth Games, af­ter it de­buted in 1998. A short Twenty20 tour­na­ment would see the world’s best crick­eters on our shores for a mini World Cup.

Beach vol­ley­ball and bas­ket­ball get ditched from the Gold Coast Games, but Games rules state that with cricket be­ing played, we have the op­tion of also adding para bas­ket­ball which is a no brainer.

SOUNDS GREAT. BUT WHERE?

New Zealand has world class venues for many of the com­pe­ti­tions listed above.

Lake Kara­piro takes care of the row­ing and ca­noe­ing, if we get them across the line. Ca­noe slalom, if in­cluded, takes place at the Wero White­wa­ter Park in Auck­land. Sail­ing will be off­shore in Auck­land.

Swim­ming will be held at Hen­der­son in Auck­land. It could do with some ex­tra seat­ing, per­haps, so a mi­nor re­fur­bish­ment could be on the cards.

Net­ball will be held at Spark Arena in Auck­land, rugby sev­ens will be at Waikato Sta­dium in Hamil­ton, hockey is on the North Shore, while cricket will spread a lit­tle fur­ther, shared be­tween Eden Park, Sed­don Park, Bay Oval in Tau­ranga and Cob­ham Oval in Whangarei.

Track cy­cling will take place at the Avan­tidrome in Cam­bridge, and the road rac­ing and moun­tain bik­ing will also be held in Waikato.

Box­ing will be at the home of David Nyika, at Claude­lands Arena in Hamil­ton, while triathlon will be on a course around the Auck­land water­front.

Bad­minton, lawn bowls, squash, judo, ta­ble ten­nis and weightlift­ing will find qual­ity venues easy enough, and there are enough good are­nas, like the North Shore Events Cen­tre, that host­ing the gym­nas­tics will be no is­sue.

Ath­let­ics is the big one, which re­quires that sta­dium we talked about ear­lier.

ALL RIGHT THEN, SO 2026 or 2030?

Well, that’s a good ques­tion, and is where re­al­ity comes into it.

Min­is­ter for Sport Grant Robert­son is on the Gold Coast en­joy­ing the 2018 Com­mon­wealth Games.

He is well aware that the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion has be­gun the process to find hosts in 2026 and 2030, and said he is learn­ing plenty from how Aus­tralia have hosted the Games.

‘‘At this point the Gov­ern­ment does not have a plan to bid for the Games,’’ Robert­son said.

‘‘How­ever, it has been use­ful to at­tend the Gold Coast Games to ob­serve what is re­quired to host such an event.

‘‘I think it’s im­por­tant that New Zealan­ders un­der­stand the scale of the mod­ern Com­mon­wealth Games.

‘‘It is a mas­sive lo­gis­ti­cal un­der­tak­ing, with a huge amount of or­gan­i­sa­tion go­ing into things like se­cu­rity and ac­com­mo­da­tion.’’

While there are no plans at this very mo­ment to bid for a Com­mon­wealth Games, Robert­son said he is look­ing into what sort of ma­jor events New Zealand could play host to in the near fu­ture, and whether the Com­mon­wealth Games would fit.

‘‘New Zealand does has a proven track record of suc­cess­fully host­ing ma­jor in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events, such as the Cricket World Cup in 2015 and Rugby World Cup in 2011.

‘‘I am cur­rently look­ing at what the best fo­cus is in terms of the ma­jor sport­ing events New Zealand should bid for - mul­ti­sport or oth­er­wise.’’

We get sim­i­lar mes­sages from the chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Com­mon­wealth Games Fed­er­a­tion, David Grevem­berg.

‘‘I think there’s a place for the Com­mon­wealth Games in New Zealand at the right time, the right fit, as long as it’s an in­vest­ment that can make sure long-term sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment,’’ Grevem­berg said.

‘‘We be­lieve there’s no ques­tion there’s an op­por­tu­nity to make that fit in the de­vel­op­ment of var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties in New Zealand and be a real value-added propo­si­tion for New Zealan­ders.’’

So, that means there’s a chance.

STUFF

With a bit of tin­ker­ing the swim­ming fa­cil­ity at Hen­der­son could ac­com­mo­date an Com­mon­wealth Games event.

STUFF

Auck­land’s Mt Smart Sta­dium dur­ing the 1990 Com­mon­wealth Games open­ing cer­e­mony. It wouldn’t take much to get this fa­cil­ity back up to scratch.

STUFF

New Zealand made a strong im­pres­sion when they last hosted the Com­mon­wealth Games in Auck­land in 1990.

GETTY IM­AGES

New Zealand’s Min­is­ter of Sport Grant Robert­son, pic­tured with Kiwi skier Nico Por­te­ous, knows what’s in­volved in host­ing ma­jor events af­ter at­tend­ing the 2018 Win­ter Olympics and the Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games.

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