Could Newcastle really host the Commonwealth games?

Lord Coe is the latest in a string of high-profile names to support a North East Commonwealth bid but could it really become reality?

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Laura Weightman of England celebrates winning silver in the Women's 1500 metres final at Hampden Park during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
Laura Weightman of England celebrates winning silver in the Women's 1500 metres final at Hampden Park during the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

Supporters of a potential North East Commonwealth Games have called for city and council boundaries not to get in the way of an event which could put the whole region on the world map.

As talk that the area could bid to host the 2026 global sporting spectacular increases thanks to high profile support from Lord Coe, attention is turning to whether the high hopes could actually become a reality.

Manchester held the Commonwealth Games in 2002 but England is expected to once again be a strong contender to be host nation when the 2026 nominations open.

Australia’s Gold Coast will host in 2018, while 2022 will go to either Durban, South Africa, or Edmonton, Canada, with an announcement to be made next month.

So 2026 would be the first opportunity for the North East to bid for an event which would cost about £400m to put on.

But this year’s Glasgow ‘Friendly Games’ saw 80% of that come from central Government and the rest was funded by local authorities.

Malcolm Dix, president and secretary of Sport Newcastle – and a strong backer of bringing the Games to the region – says it is affordable as long as everyone pulls together.

He explained: “I am very pleased to hear of Seb Coe’s support, and with the help of him, Jonathan Edwards, Brendan Foster and other key local sporting figures, we can open the door to the facilities we need.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images A general view during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
A general view during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games
 

“The first thing we need to realise is that to do this, it is not just about Newcastle or Gateshead stadium – it is about the whole of Tyne and Wear.

“Other locations, such as Sunderland with its 50m swimming pool, will need to be involved too and I know that there is support and the cash within all the councils to do this.

“There is an obligation from the Government to spread the legacy of the 2012 Olympics to areas other than London and I hope Lord Coe will be able to address that.”

He added: “This needs to be a Tyne and Wear games. It it is not about boundaries but about the facilities we can provide.

“The North East has to come together and show what an amazing place this is.”

The region would need to find money for a velodrome if it was to try to host the Games, while currently diving would have to find a home in Sheffield or Darlington.

Last week, a packed Newcastle City Council chamber of business leaders, civic groups, academics and councillors gathered for the annual State of the City event in which council leader Nick Forbes suggested the region put itself forward.

Newcastle staged Olympic football in 2012 is also holding games in the Rugby World Cup 2015, while the Great North Run will pass the one millionth finisher mark this year, having launched in 1981.

Adam Luke

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