Birmingham's Alexander Stadium is to become the new home of athletics in Britain following a £12.2 million makeover, according to city council bosses.
The local authority will today approve a deal that will see the sport’s governing body, UK Athletics, move its headquarters from Loughborough to the Perry Barr stadium, which is to have a new 5,000-seat stand.
The move also means Birmingham will be able to boast it has the national stadium for athletics, according to cabinet leisure member Coun Martin Mullaney.
He said spectator capacity could easily be increased to 25,000 for special events by hiring temporary seating, enabling the city to host the European Athletics Championships and the Commonwealth Games in future.
Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem, Moseley & Kings Heath) said: “This is fantastic news. We may have lost the national football stadium to London, but we have beaten them when it comes to athletics.”
He said most people assumed the 2012 Olympic Games stadium under construction in London would host national athletics events.
But Birmingham’s audacious move meant London would miss out, Coun Mullaney claimed.
He added: “No British city has ever hosted the European Athletics Championships, but there is a chance now that Birmingham could do so.”
The council will borrow money to cover the cost of improving Alexander Stadium, but income earned from office facilities at the new-look ground will cover interest payments, Coun Mullaney insisted.
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.
Steve Hollingworth, assistant director of sport and events at the council, said Birmingham would “become the home of UK athletics for both administration and the team for the next ten years and beyond”.
No comment was available from UK Athletics yesterday.