Some of Birmingham’s council-owned swimming baths may be closed to pay for a £60 million Olympic-size pool.
A senior local authority official admitted that older venues might have to go as the council looks to close a £30 million funding gap to provide a prestigious 50-metre pool by 2012.
Assets including “unproductive” leisure land may be disposed of in order to fund the project, according to assistant director of sports and events Steve Hollingworth.
More than 60 sites are being looked at, which include 19 pools, along with other council assets, Mr Hollingworth said.
His comments came 24 hours after council leader Mike Whitby announced plans to build the 50-metre pool on a site near the National Indoor Arena.
Coun Whitby said the new facility would be open in time for the London Olympic Games.
But the ambitious proposal was criticised by opposition Labour leader Sir Albert Bore, who questioned how the project would be financed and voiced concern about the lack of consultation on the plans.
He accused Coun Whitby (Con, Harborne) of raising expectations and “hyping up” the proposals.
The council said the pool, to be created on a site next to the NIA, will be part of a network of new swimming pools. The £84.5 million project includes the replacement of Harborne pool and the refurbishment of Stechford Cascades.
Additional funding is also needed to finance running costs, according to a cabinet report to be discussed at a meeting on Monday.
It said there is no provision in the revenue budget or long term financial strategy for these but “a number of options are being considered”.
Coun Bore (Ladywood) said he was sceptical about the plans.
“They’re having to secure for this package another £50 million of capital. Can they do it and can they do it in time? If they’re going to dispose of assets, they’re going to be trying at a time when you’re not getting the value out of these properties.
“The problems they’ve got in relation to disposal are already there and acknowledged in other parts of the council.”
Mr Hollingworth said the team working on the bid was hoping to report back to cabinet with a full business case by September. He added building work could begin by spring 2010, if planning permission is granted, and be completed by early 2012.
“It’s getting very tight,” added Coun Bore. “I don’t think there’s any guarantee with these proposals that there is going to be a 50 metre pool built and open here prior to the 2012 Olympics.”
Mr Hollingworth said the council was also “actively pursuing” grants and looking for private backing.
A site between Nelson Primary School and the railway line behind the NIA has been earmarked for the 10-lane pool.