Birmingham fires the starting pistol on 2026 Commonwealth Games bid
Birmingham is today announcing its intention to officially enter the race to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026 on the eve of Government ministers arriving in the city for the Conservative Party Conference, reports Kevin Johnson.
The bid has the “full support” of Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBSLEP), the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) and Midlands Engine. The bid team says the Games have the potential to generate in excess of £390 million GVA for the local economy, create thousands of jobs and catapult the region onto the global stage.
The Games would take place in the same year as trains begin to roll on the HS2 line if plans proceed as per the timetable. Two new stations, a high speed line and a major multi-sport global games will give the three declared mayoral candidates significant potential for ambitious sounding rhetoric in their campaigns.
Those looking to bring the global sporting event to the city are calling on the entire region to get behind the bid. Such an approach will please many who have criticised the disconnect between major bid campaigns and local people in the past.
Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council and sports enthusiast, said:
We’re calling on the entire region to get behind this bid. The economic benefit, not to mention the excitement and legacy of such an immense sporting event would have on this area, is massive. We are the perfect choice to host the Commonwealth Games.
The Glasgow Games in 2014 generated nearly £740 million worth of GVA for Scotland, and attracted 690,000 additional visitors. The Games in Durban in South Africa in 2022 are expected to create 1,000 jobs directly and a further 4,500 in supply chain businesses.
Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said:
Birmingham is a fantastic sporting city and we have proven ourselves to be warm, welcoming and friendly hosts to a number of international events in recent years. In addition to the huge economic impact, these events showcase the very best of our city and wider region to the world. I hope that we get to do that yet again in 2026 and you can be sure the Games would be a huge success in Birmingham.
Planning for the bid will also help boost the city’s transport and housing plans, according to the Council and its partners. An athletes village, for example, could be converted for social housing after the Games.
Birmingham is the second UK city to declare its intention to bid for the Games, following in the footsteps of Liverpool. Other cities believed to be considering bidding include Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and Edmonton in Canada.
Candidates must notify of their intention to bid by March 2018, with the winning city being unveiled in November 2019. Birmingham will need to win selection as the Commonwealth Games England bidder before going onto the international competition. An English bidder will first look to tie up votes from other Commonwealth countries in Europe.
It is understood that Government and national sporting bodies have been consulted and will support an English bid. Chamberlain Files understands the Birmingham team has impressed key Commonwealth and sporting figures with its provisional bid preparation.
Birmingham City Council will now commission a full feasibility study and form the Commonwealth Games 2026 bid organising committee to progress the city and region’s ambition to host the high-profile event. John Clancy, leader of the council, is known to be concerned to ensure that the bid, and then the Games if successful, is not a drain on resources at a time of challenging cuts and missed budget targets.
Issues facing a Birmingham bid include whether to commission a new stadium and its legacy or to adapt an existing facility. It must also work out where sports such as swimming and cycling, given the need for a 50 metre pool and velodrome, will take place and the related transport issues involved for competitors, spectators and media.
Birmingham will highlight its track record of delivering large international sporting events, recently hosting The Ashes at Edgbaston, Rugby World Cup fixtures at Villa Park, Diamond League athletics meetings at the Alexander Stadium, the Aegon Classic tennis championships at the Edgbaston Priory Club, the All England Open Badminton Championships and the UCI BMX Championships.
In addition, the NEC, Genting Arena and Barclaycard Arena as well as the ICC, regularly host high-profile concerts, conferences and shows. Next year Birmingham will host the Birmingham International Marathon, while the city also welcomes fixtures of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2018.
Steve Hollis, Deputy and Interim Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP said:
Greater Birmingham is perfectly poised to welcome the thousands of sports fans and athletes for the Commonwealth Games in 2026. We are one of the most connected regions in the world with unrivalled transport links, accommodation, world-class venues and entertainment. Unlike other cities considering bidding, we already have significant infrastructure in place and HS2 is also set to be operational from 2026.
Working collaboratively across the public and private sector has been the cornerstone of our economic success – and it’s that spirit that gives us a great chance of bringing the Games to Birmingham.
Bob Sleigh, Chairman of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said:
The Combined Authority’s involvement can make for an even stronger bid as it opens up the possibility of using incredible facilities such as The Hawthorns in West Bromwich or the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
In the Commonwealth Games 71 teams from 53 countries take part in sports such as bowls, netball, rugby sevens, gymnastics, swimming and boxing.
Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine, said:
The Commonwealth Games is an incredible opportunity to showcase the Midlands region, one of the largest economic areas outside of London, with the largest population, sitting at the crossroads of Britain. The Games will not only attract interest in the region, but will also provide legacy investment opportunities long after the last race is won.
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