By Michael DiFabrizio

A COMMONWEALTH Games held in regional Victoria would be an “incredible opportunity” for Sunraysia, according to Member for Mildura Ali Cupper.

The Victorian Government last week began a two-month investigation with the Commonwealth Games Federation into hosting the 2026 event with a predominantly regional focus.

Ms Cupper expressed her support for the bid, saying the Victorian Government’s recent investments in local sporting infrastructure meant Mildura was perfectly placed to be involved.

“The Mildura Sporting Precinct would be a perfect location to host sporting events like T20 cricket, rugby sevens, 3×3 basketball, netball, badminton, squash and even judo and wrestling,” she said.

“We also have amazing bowling and aquatic facilities, having just recently hosted the Victorian Long Course Swimming Championships at the Mildura Waves.”

The Victorian Government put up $3 million for stage one of the new sports precinct and is funding the $10 million second stage, which was intended to include squash courts.

However, a capacity increase would likely be needed in order to host the Commonwealth Games.

Mildura Heat basketball games will continue to be played at the Hothouse this Big V season due to seating numbers.

Shooting is another possible event for Mildura, given the new shot curtain at the Mildura Clay Target Club has been used as a training venue for Olympians.

Ms Cupper believed the Mildura region’s weather and physical environment also set it apart from the rest of the state as a venue of choice for Commonwealth Games activities.

The Games reportedly could be held in March to avoid clashing with the AFL season.

“I’m going to be lobbying hard for Mildura to be included in the host venues for the 2026 Commonwealth Games, if the bid is successful,” Ms Cupper said.

“What better way is there to showcase our amazing region than hosting the world’s best athletes right in our backyard.”
State Nationals leader Peter Walsh said any bid to host the Games in regional Victoria needed to be backed up by investment to fix country roads, rail and transport infrastructure.

However, he said the return of major international events would be “crucial” for the regions.

“The last thing we want to see is a bid for the 2026 Commonwealth Games fail because our regional transport infrastructure isn’t up to the job of carrying major crowds,” Mr Walsh said.

“Our country roads and bridges are crumbling following Labor’s decision to axe the crucial Country Roads and Bridges Program which was ensuring our local roads were safe and well-maintained.

“Regional public transport is in disarray after cuts to the VLine budget and timeline blowouts on desperately-needed upgrades to regional rail lines.

“Victoria needs a positive plan for recovery that gives confidence and certainty to invest the money and resources in a bid for a major international event like the Commonwealth Games.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said the event would create jobs, tourism and economic activity in regional Victoria while leaving “legacy benefits” in housing, skills and community facilities.

See this week’s Mildura Weekly for Michael DiFabrizio’s opinion