An attempt to make Birmingham a regular venue for Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat conferences is being stepped up with a £6 million fund.
The cash, from the city council, will allow Marketing Birmingham to subsidise major events at the NEC and ICC over the next three years.
Council leaders said the cost of luring the party conferences and other high-profile events is more than outweighed by the boost to the economy of bringing thousands of delegates to the city, and the positive publicity generated for Birmingham.
Efforts to bring major names to Birmingham have been stepped up since 2008, with notable successes.Two years ago, the Labour Party spring conference was staged at the ICC.
In 2008, the main Conservative Party conference was held in the city for the first time in 75 years. More than 10,000 people registered for the event, which the council said generated £29 million in economic impact and “massive media attention”.
The Conservatives are returning this October, for what is expected to be a landmark conference following the General Election.
Also in 2009, the 100th Rotary International Convention took place at the NEC, attracting 20,000 people from 156 countries. The total economic impact was £25 million, according to the council.
Birmingham annually hosts the British Athletics championships and in 2010 will be welcoming the European Gymnastics Championships and Liberal Democrat Spring Conference.
It is, however, the main party conferences that are viewed as the jewel in the crown. Britain’s major cities have been battling against each other to lure Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats for several years after the parties decided to expand on the traditional seaside circuit of Blackpool, Brighton and Bournemouth.
Marketing Birmingham is understood to be close to signing a deal to bring one of the main political conferences back to the ICC within the next three years.
Council assistant director for investment, enterprise and employment, Jack Glonek, said: “Marketing Birmingham is currently in discussion with a number of event organisers to secure major events for the city for the period 20100 to 2014.
“The current city council remaining funding commitment to marketing Birmingham for major events up to March 31 2011 is not sufficient to cover these new future contractual arrangements.”
Paul Tilsley, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “From the ICC to Alexandra Stadium, Edgbaston cricket ground to the NEC and NIA, Birmingham’s range of conference, events and sporting facilities is second none.
“By successfully marketing these facilities, and the first class infrastructure which underpins them, we have over recent years had great success in attracting events of national and international significance to Birmingham.
“Not only do these events raise the profile of our city, and create a ‘feel good’ factor, but they also attract significant spending into our local economy from all those who visit, which over the past three years is estimated to have been worth more than £116 million.”