Birmingham set for unprecedented boost from Commonwealth Games

Plans would see basketball in Victoria Square in Birmingham city centre.

Birmingham is set for an unprecedented economic and cultural boost after finally being confirmed as the host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

The official announcement from the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) came at a celebratory event at the Arena Academy school in Perry Barr, where CGF President Louise Martin took to the stage in the assembly hall to confirm that Birmingham’s ambitions matched those of its own for what is, the fifth largest sporting event in the world.

The Games have been conservatively estimated to cost somewhere in the region of £750 to £800m, with the city having to find around a quarter of this.

But while full costs for the event have yet to be calculated, a preliminary economic benefits analysis, commissioned from PwC for the West Midlands, has concluded the Games could be worth an incremental increase to the Gross Value Added (GVA) of the West Midlands of £526m, while the event would also support an average of 4,526 workers per year between 2018 to 2022.

West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street said the city was looking forward to welcoming the world to Birmingham in 2022, and said the award of the Games was further proof of the revival of the West Midlands.

But he said the impact of the Games would be far wider than just sporting.

To coincide with the Games is a planned business expo, the likes of which has not been seen in England outside of London.

The cultural benefits – allied to what will then be, the legacy of Coventry’s tenure as UK City of Culture – would also be enormous, added the Mayor.

Mr Street said: “The success of this bid has depended entirely on the whole of the West Midlands region getting behind it and recognising the benefits it will bring. The Games will provide the opportunity to not only see world-class sport but bring economic and social benefits.

“Above all, this will be our opportunity, along with the Coventry City of Culture the year prior to the Games, to showcase a resurgent, diverse and confident West Midlands to the world.”

Mr Street also sought to calm fears over the cost of the event and the impact this could have on front-line services in the region.

“We have been under scrutiny from the Government to ensure that the Games are good value,” he said.

“We welcome that scrutiny. We had to be specific about what was being built and what it would be used for.”

The city council has said it remains determined that funding mechanisms for the Games should not prejudice day to day services and that the cash should not come from the council tax.

A report to the council earlier this month stated: “The council and regional partner contribution will predominantly be through capital funding which, depending on the source of the capital, need not impact on day to day services.”

One revenue-raising option thought to be under consideration is a hotel tax, with a levy of £2 being placed on rooms during the Games to help towards the final cost of staging the event.

Mr Street said additional funding mechanisms would have to be found but he said that as yet, no decision had been made as to what these would be.

The day-to-day running of the event will rest with an event organising committee, and steps are in place to formalise this body as quickly as possible.

With  the official handover to Birmingham set to take place at the end of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia on April 15 next year there is little time to lose.

Oictured from left: Andy Street, Louise Martin, Cllr Ian Ward, leader, Birmingham City Council and Ian Metcalfe, chair of Commonwealth Games England.

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