Sport has vital role to play in the Engine for Growth, says new Edgbaston chief

Neil Snowball

SPORT has a vital role to play in the success of the West Midlands’ Engine for Growth strategy, the new chief executive of Warwickshire County Cricket Club has said.

Neil Snowball, who only arrived in post at Edgbaston at the beginning of the year, said Birmingham’s sporting offering was now so strong that its contribution to the city and the wider region’s economy could not be overlooked.

Despite being new to the role, Snowball – who arrived at Edgbaston after helping to steer last year’s Rugby World Cup – said he had already held two meetings with the city’s inward investment body, Marketing Birmingham.

“I want to maintain an ongoing relationship with the city,” he said.

“I think sport has the capacity to make an important contribution to the Engine for Growth.”

He said he was already formulating proposals for a city-wide campaign in June based around a variety of sporting events, one being Edgbaston’s One Day International between England and Sri Lanka on June 24.

The game kicks off a weekend of sport which also sees the British Athletics Championships taking place at Alexander Stadium, England’s rugby team take on Australia in Sydney and the start of the last 16 in the Euro 2016 Finals.

“I think there is the potential to do something really special and it could have an amazing effect on the city’s visitor economy,” he said.

“I saw the potential for myself last year when Villa Park staged games in the Rugby World Cup to such a positive reception.

“With Edgbaston’s pre-eminence as a world-class class cricketing venue then I think we have a very attractive offer.”

His arrival at Edgbaston is also set to coincide with a major rebranding of the club, especially to make the Birmingham Bears name – the title given to the club’s T20 team – more prominent, with an array of new merchandising aimed at young cricket goers.

“Last year was such a successful one for the ground because of the Ashes Test Match and the ODI against New Zealand,” he added.

“It’s my job to try and ensure we build on that success and I’m encouraged with what’s been achieved so far. Sales for the ODI against Sri Lanka are already 20% ahead of where we were at the same point last year.”

On the domestic front, the club will be looking to its success in the T20 format, especially as the ground will once again host the climax of the tournament in last August.

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