‘Circus Maximus’, Latin for greatest or largest circus, is an ancient Roman chariot racing stadium and mass entertainment venue located in Rome.

‘Circus Maximus’ is also the name of a book by American sports economist Andrew Zimbalist who takes a look behind the boosterism and sober headlines of various high profile-sporting events such as the beloved Olympics and the World Cup. He examines the bogus claims that the cities chosen to host these mega-sporting events will experience an economic windfall and other benefits rather than exploding expenses.

“This book should be required reading and words of caution for the officials that are preparing a bid for the Commonwealth Games 2022,” says Stan Bartlett, chair of the Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria.

“Before the project proceeds, taxpayers demand that an extremely strong business case for the Games be prepared and examined by an independent third party, a financial firm such as KPMG or Meyers Norris Penny.”

“Certainly there are benefits to Victoria both short and long term, but how much will it cost us and what risks are we taking?, asks Bartlett.

With all the needs and the issues in the community – aging infrastructure, transportation problems, unknown sewer treatment costs, homelessness, and affordable housing problems for students and families – it’s difficult to understand why this proposition is even being considered, says Bartlett.

“It’s unknown how many tax dollars will come from local taxpayers,” says Bartlett. “And remember any money from the province or federal government is from the same taxpayer.”

Other Big Unknowns: Importantly, because of other cities withdrawing their interest or being disqualified, the window for completion is only four instead of seven years which will likely result in excessive costs and exploding budgets. There’s a risk of adverse publicity if major problems occur. Top security at major sporting events is critical these days, and who really knows how much that will cost, but it will be substantial.

In March 2017, the original venue in Durban, South Africa was stripped of its rights to hold the games. Edmonton dropped out after the primary selection in 2015 because of falling oil prices and a weakened economy.

It is worth examining why Toronto withdrew its bid a few weeks ago after it concluded that the risks and costs were too high. Critics argued that homelessness, addiction and mental illness issues were a priority.


City of Toronto Staff Report on Hosting Commonwealth Games 2022