Region reacts positively to Commonwealth Games announcement
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The Government’s decision to ratify Birmingham as its choice for host city of the 2022 Commonwealth Games has received widespread support from across the West Midlands.
To such an extent, that should Birmingham be selected as final choice by the Commonwealth Games Federation – then the event is being seen as much about the West Midlands as it is about the city itself.
This is significant and is one of the first real manifestations of the devolved offer now being formulated by the West Midlands Combined Authority.
Comments from West Midlands Mayor Andy Street following the Government’s announcement were particularly telling.
He said: “This is a momentous day for Birmingham and the people of the West Midlands. I’m delighted that the Government has recognised the hard work put in by everyone connected with the bid.
“There has been a united effort to date and I am sure that Games themselves will unite the city like never before.”
It is thought the city-region has had to pledge to raise around £150m (25%) of the total cost of staging the event to ensure its bid was viable – of this, only a minor sum will come directly from Birmingham City Council. The remainder is being pledged from the combined resources of the West Midlands through the combined authority.
Therefore, events will be staged outside the boundaries of Birmingham, possibly at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena and certainly at the Sandwell Aquatics Centre, which will have to be built from scratch should the final bid be approved.
In recognising the bid submitted by Birmingham, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport acknowledged that the event would embrace the whole of the West Midlands.
It said competition venues in Solihull, Coventry, Sandwell and Leamington Spa as well as training venues across the region would all be pressed into service, bringing benefits not just to the city, but to the wider West Midlands.
Cllr Ian Ward, the new leader of Birmingham City Council and chair of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games Bid Committee, also acknowledged the wider region.
He said: “We have worked closely with the DCMS and the Treasury to create a compelling, compliant and value for money bid for Birmingham to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“The support of the UK Government is a great endorsement of our bid and we are excited about finalising our submission and edging closer to the opportunity to bring the Games to Birmingham.
“The support we have received from a range of public and private sector partners and from across the wider West Midlands region and beyond has been incredible and we thank everyone for backing Brum’s bid to get us this far.”
Ian Metcalfe, chair of Commonwealth Games England said: “Anyone who experienced Manchester in 2002, London in 2012 or Glasgow in 2014 will know just how special major sporting events in the UK can be. I am sure that Birmingham can stage an unforgettable Commonwealth Games in 2022.
“Birmingham’s exciting bid shows that the Games will not only deliver a sport programme of the highest calibre but also provide an amazing platform for the country as a whole.
“On behalf of Commonwealth Games England I would like to thank both the Government and Birmingham 2022 for their hard work and support to date.
“Alongside the Birmingham 2022 team, we look forward to presenting the strongest possible bid to the Commonwealth Games Federation in the hope that we can welcome the whole Commonwealth movement to England for the Games in 2022.”