Business leaders welcome Commonwealth Games decision

Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor

Business leaders and politicians have been quick to back Birmingham’s right to host the Commonwealth Games.

Although the city has been selected ahead of Liverpool for the right to be the UK’s preferred choice as host city, a lot of hard work still needs to be done before the event is finally secured.

But the city’s high quality existing venue infrastructure and its plans for a long-term sporting legacy are thought to have been the clinching factors in the final decision – something which will form the basis for the next stage of the bidding process.

In the meantime, the Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, said he was delighted with the way the city region had pulled together to get the Birmingham bid over the line.

“A huge well done to Birmingham City Council for their visionary bid, and to everyone who helped,” he said.

The Mayor said the regional support of the Midlands had been a key determining factor and thanked regional agencies and organisations that had worked hard over the last six months to help the bid.

“We will make the Commonwealth proud,” he added.

“But this is only the first battle to make sure Birmingham’s bid becomes a reality, now we must start work with HM Treasury to ensure they back us.

“The next round is the international round, and we go into that race with momentum and optimism.”

Ian Ward, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council and chair of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, said: “This is a great endorsement by the Government of Birmingham’s credentials to host the Games and recognition of the city’s resolve to deliver a memorable event.

“We appreciate that it was a very close decision and that Liverpool pushed us all the way with a very compelling proposal.

“This is not the end of the journey and we look forward to working with the Government as it makes its final decision to support a UK Candidate City.”

Neil Rami, chief executive of the West Midlands Growth Company, which manages the leisure tourism programme Visit Birmingham, said: “The decision is fantastic news for the city and the wider West Midlands region.

“Birmingham has enjoyed a 17% increase in domestic tourists and a 52% rise in overseas guests since 2011. We anticipate the Games alone to add at least a 10% increase to our record-breaking visitor numbers.

“Winning this stage of the process confirms what we’ve known for a long time – Birmingham and the West Midlands are world-class sporting destinations, which provide an outstanding welcome for its millions of sports fans.”

Rob Valentine, the Birmingham-based director of property group Bruntwood, said: “The Games will beam Birmingham across the globe – showcasing the city and bringing us many new visitors.

“The bid team has done a tremendous job in securing this recommendation and it’s now up to us all to get behind the project and make the most of this opportunity.

“The Commonwealth Games is a wonderful event. I was working in Manchester during the 2002 Games and witnessed for myself the way it galvanised the city. They had over 10,000 volunteers, a massive boost to visitor numbers and a step-change in terms of sporting facilities.”

Sean Bowles, managing director central region of the Midlands construction group Morgan Sindall, also praised the bid team’s work.

“There have been suggestions in the past that Birmingham needs to show more confidence when going up against other cities for prestigious set piece events. The result here speaks for itself, a comprehensive bid that is grounded in reality,” he said.

“We are all entitled to be excited about what’s to come. The economic impact in terms of visitor numbers and new facilities will benefit our communities enormously.”