Costs and benefits of Commonwealth games were not assessed - study

March 19, 2007

HALIFAX— Halifax’s Commonwealth Games bid did not properly assess the potential costs and benefits of hosting the games, says a study released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA). The study “Halifax Commonwealth Games Bid: Were the costs and benefits assessed” examines the economic assessment methods used in the games bid and reviews the experience of other cities which have hosted major international sporting events.

Authors James Wildsmith (development economist), and Michael Bradfield (Professor of Economics, Dalhousie conclude that the “Halifax bid over-estimated the benefits and under-estimated the costs and that hosting the Games would be a very expensive way to generate sports and other infrastructure.”

“When governments support the development of major sporting events” according to Wildsmith “they need to ensure the public's best interest by taking into account the overall costs and benefits of the event.”

Bradfield points out that “the estimated economic benefit from the Halifax Games and spending by tourists was grossly over-estimated and the forecasting model used was an inappropriate tool to base an investment decision on.”

The appropriate tool according to the authors is a cost-benefit analysis which, while required by the federal government, was not completed for the Halifax bid.

The report’s review of the experience of other cities that have hosted major international sporting events concludes that legitimate benefits of these events are the legacy of the games facilities and the urban infrastructure built for them. But Wildsmith points out “games usually do not even cover the costs of running them and the pubic is left to foot the bill for infrastructure and long term maintenance.” The reality is, Bradfield adds, that “in most cities, the infrastructure is expensive to build, costly to maintain, and inappropriate to local needs.”

The games bid has been dropped but, according to the authors, Nova Scotians still have much to learn from the experience, “our hope is that this report contributes to the debate and to any future initiatives to host major international events.”


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact John Jacobs at 902-477-1252. “Halifax Commonwealth Games Bid: Were the costs and benefits assessed” is available at