Councils brace for Commonwealth Games cost
Five Victorian regional hubs are jumping at the chance to host Commonwealth Games events in 2026 despite concerns over the likely costs.
Geelong City councillor Anthony Aitken said recent financial data suggested the state's second biggest city, which will host nine events and the closing ceremony, could not afford the Games outlay.
"Council wholeheartedly supports the delivery of the games in regional Victoria ... but the reality is that our latest financial results indicate that we can't afford it," he told a recent council meeting.
Cr Aitken suggested possible exemptions from council rates-caps as a solution to help raise the funds.
His comments came as Geelong City reiterated its support for the Games coming to the region.
"The event will deliver around $650 million in infrastructure investment in Geelong, which will be a hugely beneficial outcome," mayor Trent Sullivan said in a statement.
Cr Sullivan noted cost escalations had put pressure on the council's capital projects program, but it would consider investment where the facilities met the community's needs.
"We are in discussion with the Victorian government about how much we will be expected to invest," he said.
Geelong will host more events than any other regional hub.
Commonwealth Games Bendigo director and acting council chief executive Andrew Cooney said cost pressures associated with the Games could mean reorganising the city's capital works pipeline.
"It's just potentially a change in the priority of our expenditure," he told AAP.
Mr Cooney said Bendigo, which will host six sporting events, was not looking at a rates-cap exemption and sports infrastructure was only one part of the Games' legacy.
"We're really excited about the arts and cultural programme that we're going to provide," he said.
"We want to give people a wonderful experience for the year and hopefully entice them to come back. For us, the legacy is beyond just the sports infrastructure."
Ballarat mayor Des Hudson conceded current price pressures couldn't be ignored when it came to budgeting.
"The City of Ballarat is always faced with balancing competing priorities, this is being made more challenging in an inflationary environment," he said.
Ballarat will host three Commonwealth Games sporting events.
"Right now, it is too early to estimate what the financial implications of the Commonwealth Games will be on future council budgets," Cr Hudson said.
Latrobe Valley mayor Kellie O'Callaghan said the council was working closely with the state government to maintain clear lines of communication.
"We're still talking to the state around the planning... (and) what it is that we will need to be doing in terms of preparation," she told AAP.
"We're making sure that the state understands what our capacity is, in terms of how we contribute and how we partner in the games."
Shepparton Mayor Shane Sali said the city was excited to deliver its Games events.
"We look forward to welcoming visitors and competitors to our region," Cr Sali said in a statement.
"The ambitious idea for a regional Victoria Commonwealth Games was launched right here in Greater Shepparton more than five years ago and we are excited to see the concept come to life in 2026."