MILDURA is unlikely to follow the lead of other regional councils and make a public pitch to host medal events during the 2026 Commonwealth Games.
The City of Ballarat, already one of four ‘hubs’ for the regional Victoria event, announced a bid to secure rowing at Lake Wendouree if it is added to the list of sports.
Warrnambool Council, which like Mildura missed out in the initial hosting announcement, will lodge a bid for the marathon.
Mayor Vicki Jellie told The Standard newspaper a working group would have a submission ready in time for a government expression of interest deadline on July 31.
Mildura Council also intended to make a submission, however while hosting medal events isn’t being ruled out, a spokesman said it had been advocating to host lead-up sporting events and training camps prior to the Games.
“We will continue to liaise with the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee on opportunities,” the spokesman said.
“The reality is the majority of the events will be hosted in venues closer to Melbourne (Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo), so whilst we are hopeful of attracting events, we are also looking at other opportunities that may exist.”
The spokesman said the focus of any submission would be determined as more detail became available.
“It will be important to work with other regional venues (e.g. Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo),” the spokesman said.
“We share a good working relationship with the State Government as evidenced by recent funding announcements for sporting facilitates, so we will continue to collaborate on opportunities for our region.”
A program of 16 sports and their host cities was already announced, centred on the four hubs of Ballarat, Geelong, Bendigo and Gippsland.
Up to five additional sports can be added, with confirmation of those expected later this year.
India officials have called for archery, shooting and wrestling to be added, while the Victorian Government wants T20 cricket to be expanded to include both men and women, The Age newspaper reported.
Mildura has impressive shooting facilities, however officials from that sport recently talked up Echuca as an option.
The versatile Mildura Sporting Precinct – built at a cost of $13.7 million to ratepayers, $13.5 million to state taxpayers and $17.5 million to federal taxpayers – could in theory host a number of events, though signals point to it going unused.
Former sports minister Martin Pakula said during a visit to Mildura there were Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) rules about how far from an athletes village events could be held.
However, during the 2018 Gold Coast Games there were events in Cairns and Townsville.
The CGF constitution, which details many of the event’s logistical parameters, does not refer to an events radius.
A Victorian Government spokesman declined to clarify and the CGF were contacted for comment.
The government spokesman also declined to detail the process for communities aiming to host events but said it wanted as many regional Victorians “involved” in the Games as possible.
“We’re working to extend far beyond our four regional hubs and create lasting impacts for towns and cities across regional Victoria,” the spokesman said.
Live sites, other “activations” and the Queens’s Baton Relay have been mooted as ways to spread the event more broadly than the hubs.
Once the full sport program is finalised, there will be further work to develop other opportunities in the build up to the Games, potentially including lead-in events and training camps.
Peak bodies, Traditional Owner and Aboriginal organisations, businesses, creative and cultural organisations and individuals are also able to submit ideas for the Games by July 31, using the Victorian Government website.
– Michael DiFabrizio
Pictured above, Ballarat Mayor Daniel Moloney pushing for rowing events at Lake Wendouree. Below, Warrnambool’s pitch on the front page of that town’s The Standard newspaper.