August 15 - New Zealand officials are growing increasingly confident that Auckland will be given the opportunity to follow Glasgow 2014 and bid to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.


Early indications are that a NZ$325,000 (£133,000) feasability currently being conducted by Events Knowledge Services (EKS), a consultant to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF), has already identified a number of advantages that Auckland has over other cities.


These include Eden Park, which is currently being upgraded as it is play a major part when New Zealand hosts the 2011 Rugby World Cup.


The stadium is scheduled to be the focal point World Cup, with the opening ceremony, first pool game, both semi-finals, third place play-off and the final.


It would also be the centrepiece if Auckland was awarded the Commonwealth Games.


The minimum capacity for a Games opening ceremony is 40,000.


Eden Park can take 47,000, which is due to be increased to 60,000 as part of a NZ$320 million (£131 million) facelift.


The  stadium is also expected to host matches during the 2015 Cricket World Cup which will jointly be hosted by Australia and New Zealand.


New Zealand Olympic Committee secretary Barry Maister said that Swiss-based EKS were positive about Auckland's facilities and bid, even though it had nearly been dropped earlier in the year because of the current economic crisis.


Maister said: "They [EKS]  expressed a view that Auckland was well advanced in terms of what it has, relative to many other cities they assess."


Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon is also helping Auckland's bid by phoning countries to try to guage support for bringing the Games back to New Zealand for the first time since 1990, when Auckland also hosted the event.


The only other occasion it has been held in New Zealand was in 1974 when Christchurch was the host city.


The biggest problem for Auckland's bid could be the lack of a world-class Olympic-sized swimming pool and velodrome.


Several countries have already expressed an interest in bidding for the 2018 Games, including the Gold Coast in Australia.

Abuja, the Nigerian capital that lost out on the chance to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow, has already declared its intention to bid for 2018 while candidates are also expected to emerge from Durban and Nairobi.

But an expected bid from Port-of-Spain collapsed in June after the Trinidad Government cancelled the Caribbean Games because of the swine flu epidemic.

A decision on which city will be chosen by the CGF is due in November 2011.