A 5,000-seat new stand planned for Perry Barr’s Alexander Stadium could bring the world’s best athletes to Birmingham on a regular basis.
Council leisure officials want to spend up to £10 million on improvements which they hope will lure the fastest man on earth, world 100 metres champion Usain Bolt, to the city on a regular basis.
Leisure bosses believe better spectator facilities will result in Birmingham being chosen to host the International Association of Athletics Federation’s Samsung Diamond League – a series of global race meetings featuring top athletes.
A council planning application has been submitted to demolish an old seating area along the home straight and replace it with a far larger stand.
The new facilities will bring the stadium up to Diamond League standards, matching race tracks in Shanghai, Oslo, Rome, New York and Monaco.
It’s thought that the makeover will also help improve Birmingham’s chances of being chosen to stage the Commonwealth Games.
Talks between the council and the IAAF have confirmed that Alexander Stadium is likely to be handed a six-year contract for Diamond League meetings beginning next May, if the new stand is built in time.
The value to Birmingham, in terms of live television coverage and tourism, is estimated at £24 million over the six years, according to the council.
The cost of the new stand is thought to be between £7 million and £10 million and is yet to get approval from the council cabinet. Some of the money would be borrowed and some could come from government grants.
Part of the new stand development will contain offices, which the council will let to generate income.
Talks are underway in an attempt to convince UK Athletics, the sport’s governing body in this country, to move its headquarters from Solihull to Alexander Stadium.
Martin Mullaney, the cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, said the proposal was part of a long-term plan to increase capacity at the stadium in the hope that Birmingham will be chosen to stage the money-spinning European Athletics Championships.
Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley & Kings Heath) said: “This is potentially very exciting news. We will be getting the fastest athletes in the world coming to Birmingham once a year, putting the city firmly on the map as a major force in staging athletics.
“Most Birmingham residents probably haven’t even heard of the Diamond League, but a few years down the line this will be a major sporting event with television coverage.
"The meetings will attract thousands of spectators and generate wealth for the local economy, as well as bringing prestige to the city.”