Commonwealth Games: what can we expect?

One of the major factors in Birmingham securing the right to stage the 2022 Commonwealth Games has been attributed to the city region’s wealth of sporting venues.

Even with the Games still more than four years away, already 95% of the venues which will be used are in place.

The focus will be an enhanced and refurbished Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr. The stadium, already an internationally renowned athletics venue, will be stage the athletics competition as well as the opening and closing ceremonies.

Seating capacity at the venue will be increased to around 40,000 and training facilities will also be upgraded.

The city’s four indoor arenas: the NEC, Genting Arena, Arena Birmingham and Symphony Hall will all feature.

Three of the NEC’s largest halls will host Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis and freestyle Wrestling, while the nearby Genting Arena will host Badminton. Arena Birmingham (formerly the Barclaycard Arena) will host Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics, while the Symphony Hall, more used to classical concerts, will stage the Weightlifting and Para Powerlifting.

New Squash Courts and Hockey Pitches at University of Birmingham will become the competition venues for Hockey and Squash, while additional University facilities will be used as training venues ahead of the Games.

The Rugby 7s will take place at Rugby World Cup 2015 Host Venue, Villa Park.

In the city centre, Victoria Square, outside Birmingham Council House, will be transformed into a sporting and cultural landmark for the duration of the Games. It will also stage the Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball competition.

Confirmation of the Games also signals the go ahead for the new Sandwell Aquatics Centre. The centre, one of the few venues which has yet to be built, will host Swimming, Para Swimming and Diving.

Reflecting the regional focus of the Games, the Ericsson Indoor Arena, part of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, which will host the Netball competition.

Royal Leamington Spa’s Victoria Park, home of Bowls England and the English National Bowls Championships, has been chosen as the Lawn Bowls and Para Lawn Bowls venue.

With the full line-up of sports yet to be determined, other venues may also be pressed into service if required.

One sport which is likely to be held outside the region is cycling as the region does not – and has no plans to have – a velodrome facility.

The wealth of venues available was singled out by Commonwealth Games Federation President, Louise Martin, who said: “The vast majority of the Games venues are in place, and with extensive experience in the UK of hosting successful major events – including Manchester 2002, London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 – the CGF looks forward to a truly spectacular Games that delivers not only for the 2.4 billion citizens across the Commonwealth but the wider world, too.”

Paul Thandi, chief executive of NEC Group, said: “Host cities are required to demonstrate world-class sporting facilities and NEC Group is proud to be supplying four of our top venues across Birmingham and Solihull. All our sites had to meet rigorous guidelines around athletes’ needs, technical specifications, seating capacity and Games-time logistics.

“This result is testament to our track record of delivering large-scale international sporting events and investing significantly into our venues to set us apart from our competitors. It also reflects the expertise and professionalism of our people.”

Nick Eastwood, Group Chief Executive at the Ricoh Arena and Wasps, said: “We are delighted that the home of Superleague champions Wasps Netball is being given this once-in-a-lifetime chance to host the sport on a global stage for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022.

“The Ericsson Indoor Arena has plenty of experience at successfully hosting domestic and international netball matches, making us perfectly poised to deliver a memorable experience for the thousands of visitors to the Ricoh Arena and the millions watching on TV.”

Tamsin Greenway, Wasps Director of Netball and Commonwealth Games Bronze Medallist, said: “Winning a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 was a career highlight for me, so I cannot begin to describe my excitement that we will be hosting elite-level netball in Coventry in 2022.

“Netball is growing in popularity, particularly in the Midlands through the community work that Wasps Netball are doing with England Netball, and this announcement will really help to inspire generations before, during and after the Commonwealth Games.”