A Birmingham bid to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games has secured significant backing in the city and beyond.
The Post has called on the city to bid for the event to raise the profile of the city, boost tourism income and could act as a springboard for further international events.
And it has secured backing from the new chief executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority Martin Reeves, who said the “super council” would be happy to help.
Already the authority, a grouping of councils set up to run transport, economic development and other strategic services in the region, is backing Coventry’s bid for 2021 City of Culture.
Mr Reeves stressed that the first decision is for Birmingham City Council but added: “If they decide to go for it, then the WMCA should support the bid in the way that the WMCA is for Coventry’s City of Culture bid.”
He said the move fitted in the authority’s role supporting economic development in the region, adding: “These are massive international events around sport and culture. If it is good for Birmingham, it is good for the West Midlands.”
He added that the authority would also be offering support on efforts to increase the BBC and Channel 4’s investment in Birmingham and the region.
The Post previously reported calls from the likes of Brummie athlete Mark Lewis-Francis and city MP Khalid Mahmood for Birmingham to be ambitious and bid for the games.
It would require Government backing – and regional support would likely be important – but would offer an opportunity to boost infrastructure in the longer term on the back of hosting the event.
Council deputy leader Ian Ward, responsible for sport in the city, has also given his backing to a bid – as long as the finance can be secured.
So the city, which already has the international standard Alexander Stadium at Perry Barr and further sports facilities at the Barclaycard Arena and NEC, would also look to the wider West Midlands area for further facilities and backing.
Councillor Ward (Lab, Shard End) said that it is important the city council was not left with a huge bill.
He said: “Seventeen sports across 11 days in Birmingham, it would be fantastic. What’s not to like? But it cost Glasgow £500 million and, in the current environment the city council does not have that kind of money to invest.”
However he said the council may be open to speaking with others as it considers a bid.
It cost £575 million for Glasgow to stage the 2014 games – of which £375 million came from taxpayers including the council and Scottish Government, the rest from sponsorship and sale of media and merchandising rights.
The 2026 Games would have the added benefit of arriving just as the city opens the HS2 service following a decade of investment in transport and infrastructure.
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