Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium will have to more than triple in size if a city bid to host the Commonwealth Games is successful.
Council officials are working on the basis that spectator capacity must be increased from 8,000 to 25,000 by 2022. In the short term, the stadium will be improved in time to act as a pre-Olympic Games training base for the American track and field team in 2012.
Refurbishment of the netted area for discus and hammer throwing and resurfacing of the running track are two of the conditions demanded by the United States team in return for choosing to acclimatise and train here before heading to London for the Games.
Council cabinet member for leisure, sport and culture, Martin Mullaney, is expected to outline his vision for a new-look Alexander Stadium in the autumn. He is determined Birmingham does not fall into the trap of other cities that have hosted the Commonwealth Games, with a huge and costly “white elephant” stadium rarely used to its full capacity.
About 10,000 of the additional seats could be temporary and removed when the games have finished.
Coun Mullaney said: “Resurfacing of the running track would have happened, anyway, but it will be done in time for the Americans.
“We haven’t decided yet whether to go for the Commonwealth Games but if we do decide to bid we would have to increase the capacity of the stadium.”
Coun Mullaney will also address funding issues and outline his thinking on ways in which the council may attract cash grants to carry out the work. He said that attracting the US track and field team to Birmingham was a “major coup” for the city.
He was speaking as cabinet colleagues ordered the council’s chief legal officer to draw up contracts committing the American athletes to use Birmingham as a training camp before the Games.
Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley and Kings Heath) added: “This will be a huge boost to the city. Birmingham will be on television screens across America and we will have the US and world media in Birmingham.”
He said the council remained optimistic about signing training camp deals with other nations. Talks are continuing with China and Jamaica.
Council leader, Coun Mike Whitby (Con Harborne) said: “This has been a marathon journey. I first met Stephanie Hightower, then chairman of US Track and Field, in Birmingham in March 2007.
“Now I sense we are on the final lap before truly cementing this exceptional coup for Birmingham.
“This week’s cabinet report brings the historic day, when we will cement the relationship between Birmingham and USA Athletics, a massive step closer.”