Bid organizers peg Victoria Commonwealth Games cost at $955M

The Victoria bid committee is hoping to repeat the success of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, which organizers say put the region on the map for international sport events, which continues to boost the local economy.

'We have a rock solid bid now that we can put forward,' says organizer

Victoria businessman David Black and Lois Smith, the director of sport administration for the 1994 Commonwealth Games, announce the budget for the 2022 bid. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

A group that wants to bring the Commonwealth Games back to Victoria has released figures on how much it would cost to host the event

The group is rushing to put together a bid for the 2022 games because the Commonwealth Games Federation is searching for a new host after Durban, South Africa was stripped of the event in March.

That city was awarded the games in 2015 but it failed to provide financial guarantees.

The total budget to host the event has been pegged at $955 million, said David Black, the Victoria businessman leading the bid.

The estimate is based on a $400 million contribution from the federal government and another $400 million from the province. The provincial government would also have to include a guarantee it would cover any cost overuns.

"We have a rock solid bid now that we can put forward," Black said. 

But now it's up to the provincial and federal governments to decide if they are willing to put up the cash.

Province not convinced

B.C. Finance Minister Carole James has said she is lukewarm to the idea, but Black says she now has a business case to consider.

He said the games would bring much-needed infrastructure improvements to the Victoria area, including up to $600 million worth of new housing for an athletes' village. Those units could be re-purposed after the games, he said.

"These games are really a catalyst to solve this housing problem for us."

The bid would also require the municipalities to contributes $25 million for in-kind services such as policing, garbage pickup at the athletes' village and other municipal service costs.

In addition, the Victoria bid includes holding some events — including table tennis, badminton and rugby 7s — at some Vancouver venues.

The committee says 60 per cent of the venues for the games would be in existing facilities that require few upgrades, but some new facilities would need to be built.

Those include a new regional arena and a new stadium that would host the opening and closing ceremonies.

Building on success of 1994

The Victoria bid committee is hoping to repeat the success of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, which put the region on the map for international sporting events that continue to boost the local economy, Black said.

"Before 1994, we had no national teams training here, and we were not getting an awful lot of competitions here, even though we have the best weather in Canada," he said.

"After the games we've got eight national teams training here and we get a ton of competitions."

The muliti-sport event has grown significantly since the last time Victoria hosted. In 2022, the games will  involve 6,500 athletes from 71 countries. About 20,000 volunteers would be needed.

The committee said it is under pressure to secure funding.

The deadline to submitt the bid is the end of September. A decision is expected on the new host city for 2022 by the end of the year.

The English cities of Liverpool and Birmingham are also making official bids to host the 2022 games.