2026 Commonwealth Games to head regional, Shepparton forecast to host events
Excitement and anticipation filled the air when the announcement came through from the Andrews Government that Victoria was confirmed to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games on Tuesday.
The thought of the best competitors from across the globe duking it out at regional courts, stadiums and fields in Shepparton was no longer a pipe dream.
More than five years of work from the Greater Shepparton City Council had gone in to laying down the foundations and bringing the games to the region.
Shepparton Sports City, a recently redeveloped precinct and the mecca of sport in the Goulburn Valley, is ready and waiting for world-class athletes to etch their names into the history books.
But instead of being giddy on the thought of watching those moments, sports fans in the Goulburn Valley were left puzzled and deflated.
And rightly so.
The announcement reeled off events and hubs that will be held in four major regions in Victoria — except for Shepparton.
However, the Victorian Government did highlight that Shepparton would also host sporting and cultural events as part of Victoria 2026.
Already there has been 16 sports allocated to either Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo or Gippsland.
Shepparton has missed out on hosting lawn bowls and para lawn bowls, hockey and beach volleyball to name a few.
The region is no stranger to hosting successful large-scale international events.
Shepparton welcomed the 2020 UCI BMX Supercross World Cup, while the city’s Victoria Park Lake hosted the 2017 and 2018 World Tour beach volleyball events.
City of Greater Shepparton Mayor Kim O’Keeffe said the city had the capacity to host and run major sporting events.
“We can do sporting events really well. They already know that. Greater Shepparton can do that better than anyone,” she said.
“We’ve got lots of fit-for-purpose facilities.”
With only 16 sports added to the 2026 Commonwealth Games list at the moment, there will be more added in the coming months.
Basketball 3x3 is scheduled for this year’s 2022 Games in Birmingham.
The sport was not included in the list of 16 but could potentially be added.
That would then open the door for Shepparton Sports Stadium to not only host the sport, but to be redeveloped and updated.
“We’ve got aspiration for a new sports and events centre and maybe some other sports that it could be used for,” O’Keeffe said.
“We’re jumping into this space as quickly as possible and continuing to work on other possibilities.”
Another sport could be hosted further down the Goulburn Valley Hwy at Nagambie.
Rowing, a staple of the Olympic Games, is not yet included in the 2026 Commonwealth Games but would be right at home at Lake Nagambie.
In the past fortnight, Nagambie hosted the Australian Rowing Championships.
Nagambie Rowing Club treasurer Pat McNamara, a former Rowing Australia and Rowing Victoria president, said the recent success of the national event was just a glimpse of what could be achieved if given the chance.
“It was an extraordinary effort given we had about eight working days’ notice that we had been selected, so the amount of work that went into it from people around the town was incredible,” he said.
“That certainly proved we are capable of hosting an event like the Commonwealth Games here at the lake.
“There is no other venue in Victoria that will have both a dedicated boat park that can be fenced off with an entry point where everyone can be ticketed on entry and a cycling track that can link the course to the centre of town.
“We have got an eight-lane course, fully buoyed, a peninsula that goes out 750m into the lake so people can put their marquees down almost half the length of the course.
“The Strathbogie council has just led a tender for the construction of a new three-metre boardwalk down the length of the course with viewing platforms at various spots along the track.”