Officials at Birmingham City Football Club today unveiled plans for the most ambitious leisure complex yet proposed for the Midlands.
Details of the #300 million Birmingham Sports Village were unveiled after months of talks between some of the city's most famous sporting names, the city council and US casino company Las Vegas Sands.
The project, which was first revealed in The Birmingham Post almost 18 months ago, will be anchored by a 55,000-seater multi-purpose stadium designed to put the city on the international sporting map.
The iconic structure, which will be the only four-sport arena in the country, will be set within a 59-acre "village" in Saltley, which would include facilities for basketball, tennis and indoor football.
The president of the multi-billion dollar Las Vegas Sands casino company vowed to "bring Las Vegas to Birmingham" with the building of an entertainment complex within the village.
However, the entire scheme will only become a reality if the Gaming Commission agrees to grant a super casino licence for the project, which depends on a #117 million cash injection from Las Vegas Sands.
Karren Brady, Birmingham City managing director, said the sports village would have lasting benefits for the whole region and would "right the wrong" of the decision to build a new national stadium at Wembley, not in the Midlands.
She also claimed that the regeneration benefits of the scheme put the project ahead of rival casino bids being promoted locally by the National Exhibition Centre and Coventry's Ricoh Arena.
"This is a destination that will draw people from across the UK to state-of-the-art facilities and an attractive new landscape," said Ms Brady.
"This is not just a 55,000-seater stadium where we could hold major competitions in rugby, cricket, football and athletics.
"We want to deliver regeneration and enrich people's lives in a way that no other casino proposals in the Midlands or in the UK can match."
Ms Brady also said that the new arena, which would be called The City of Birmingham Stadium, would help Birmingham City compete with Europe's best football clubs.
As the country's only arena to boast a retractable roof, pitch and lower seating, council officials also believe it could help Birmingham to stage events such as the Champions League Final, Rugby League internationals and Test match cricket.
Officials at Warwickshire County Cricket Club have already discussed the possibility of organising Test matches at the arena with Ms Brady and the city council.
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Council officials have also discussed the possibility of using the stadium as a centrepiece for a future bid for hosting the Commonwealth Games.
Las Vegas Sands president William Weidner revealed that the casino group had held talks with the NEC over its plans to build a super casino.
However, he said a partnership with the complex had been ruled out as he felt it would not fulfil the Government's criteria that the new super casinos should help regeneration. The project would be funded with cash from Las Vegas Sands, revenue derived from the sale of Birmingham City's St Andrew's home, and a grant from the city council.
It is expected that between #3 million and #5 million profits will be made each year from hosting events at the stadium.
Most of that cash would go to the city council, with the remainder being paid to Birmingham City. Las Vegas Sands would hope to recoup its massive outlay through its running of the entertainment complex.