London stadium plan could boost Birmingham’s Commonwealth Games bid
Birmingham’s chances of securing the 2022 Commonwealth Games could be enhanced if the city is prepared to utilise the City of London Stadium as its athletics venue, the outgoing chair of UK Athletics has said.
Ed Warner said there was little point in the city investing in a 40,000-seat stadium for the Games when there was a perfect venue already in place in London.
Quoted in newspaper stories over the weekend, Mr Warner said if the city was prepared to be flexible and agree to use the London stadium as the venue for the athletics events then it would move to the head of the pack in terms of competing bids.
He said the same could be true for Birmingham’s main rival Liverpool, which is planning to install a running track at Everton’s new football ground.
Mr Warner said the success of the World Athletics Championships, which closed yesterday (Sunday) was evidence that London could successfully stage the sport’s biggest events.
He said utilising the stadium for future events such as the Commonwealth Games made sense both for the competing cities and for the sport in general.
Whether the city would be prepared to comprise in order to secure the event remains to be seen.
It has already outlined how a revamped Alexander Stadium could look like if the city gets to host the Games.
An enhanced and refurbished stadium is considered pivotal to the Games and a number of improvements have been planned, along with the installation of additional seating, with the intention of establishing the venue as a national centre for athletics.
A new permanent seating arrangement of up to 25,000 seats could be increased to 40,000 during the Games, with flexibility to go higher.
All athletics and para athletics disciplines for Birmingham 2022 – with the exception of the marathon, which will take place in Birmingham city centre – would take place in the Alexander Stadium ensuring that both track and field athletes benefit from the large crowds and their team’s support throughout their event.
Mr warner comments should be seen in the wider context. There are currently concerns that future funding for UK Athletics may impact the sport, while world governing bodies could struggle to attract London-sized attendances at future championships.
Meanwhile, Birmingham may also have a new ally in its corner in the shape of Richard Bowker, who is succeeding Mr Warner.
Mr Bowker knows the city and the wider West Midlands well, having been a former chief executive of Birmingham-based transport business, National Express.