Imagine the Alexander Stadium expanded into the new 40,000 capacity home of British athletics and a brand new competition standard aquatics centre in Sandwell.
That is the vision being laid out as Birmingham’s ploughs ahead with its bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
Commonwealth Games judges are heading to Birmingham in July to run their eye over the bid. They will also be checking out the rival bid from Liverpool.
Birmingham already has 95 per cent of the venues in place and can pull together a successful tournament at relatively short notice and low cost.
Only a competition level aquatics centre is needed and talks are underway with neighbouring Sandwell Borough to build one there. The council has been in talks with Sport England over a new leisure centre and this could be upgraded to Commonwealth Games competition standard.
Meanwhile, Coventry’s Ricoh Arena exhibition hall could stage netball and basketball tournaments and sites in Staffordshire are also being considered.
Warwickshire Cricket Club is pushing for Twenty20 tournament to be included in the Games with the world famous Edgbaston stadium as host.
And Villa Park, which hosted 2015 Rugby World Cup matches could see the sport return.
The University of Birmingham is investing £70 million in sports facilities and is keen to stage hockey and squash competitions.
However the only confirmed venues are:
Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr - which will be upgraded to host up to 50,000 spectators.
The NEC's halls will host boxing, judo, wrestling and table tennis.
Barclaycard Arena will host gymnastics.
Genting Arena will host badminton.
Symphony Hall will host weight-lifting.
Birmingham City Council’s deputy leader Ian Ward said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the city to do this. We’re ahead of the game in getting this together.
“We have 95 per cent of facilities in place which means in my view we can deliver a games at lower cost than anywhere else.
“Using existing venues means we will not be lumbered with expensive white elephant facilities after,” he added.
He said that an expansion of Alexander Stadium to 40,000 capacity could see it become the home of British athletics - especially as West Ham are looking to make more changes to the London Stadium.
UK Athletics chief executive Niels de Vos is a member of Birmingham’s bid committee.
Zena Wooldridge of the University of Birmingham, which this summer hosts the Jamaican athletics team training camp, said: “This is an exciting project. We are looking to host hockey and squash which are two of our high performance sports.”
Also on the committee was Warwickshire County Cricket Club chief Neil Snowball who added: “Our city has one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the country, we absolutely have the ability to host a spectacular Commonwealth Games.
“Birmingham already hosts world class sport, including the Cricket World Cup and Ashes at Edgbaston. This takes it to the next level.
He said the club will be speaking with the cricket and games authorities to get cricket included in 2022. “The major cricket nations are all members of the Commonwealth and women’s T20 cricket was to be included at the Durban Games so we hope to see Commonwealth Cricket at Edgbaston.”
Birmingham backs the bid
Steve Hollis, chairman of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership :
“It would be fantastic to see Birmingham put forward a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games – and given our unrivalled transport links, accommodation and world-class venues, we’re ideally placed to succeed.”
“Organising an event of this scale will once again highlight the region’s credentials on an international stage.
“With Greater Birmingham in the midst of an economic renaissance, it would be a pleasure to welcome thousands of athletes, tourists and sports fans alike to enjoy all that the city region has to offer.”
Fiona Allan, cheif executive of the Birmingham Hippodrome theatre:
“It’s very important for Birmingham to be bidding for the Commonwealth Games to hosted here - we are a city of global citizens, with a world class sporting and cultural offer. It’s our chance to demonstrate what an incredibly friendly and exciting city we have become, a confident city capable of hosting major international events, with plenty to occupy tourists during their stay. Birmingham Hippodrome is proud to support the bid and look forward to working in partnership to showcase our great city to the world.”
Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC) :
“The business community in Greater Birmingham will fully support this initiative. It presents a huge range of opportunities for all businesses and the bid itself will bring a focus on Birmingham at a time when it is driving its importance on the global stage. The Games are recognised as having the potential to generate in excess of £390 million for the local economy, create thousands of jobs and catapult the region onto the global stage.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street:
“I truly believe the bid should be for the entire West Midlands, bringing everybody together behind a cause. What could be a better global showcase for our resurgent region than hosting the Commonwealth Games?
“If elected as Mayor on May 4 I will make it an immediate priority to get everyone in the region behind Birmingham City Council’s bid so that we can convince Government that they should support us.”
Clare Lewis, executive director of DanceXchange :
“The Commonwealth Games presents a great opportunity to bring the world to Birmingham, to showcase our rich cultural offer, and to attract positive profile for the city. We would be excited to be part of the associated cultural programme, particularly as this would coincide with International Dance Festival Birmingham 2022, our award-winning biennial festival.”
Green Party candidate for mayor James Burn said :
“Events like this give a city a real buzz. Look at the London Olympics and Manchester in 2002, the atmosphere was incredible and I’d love to see that happen here.
“With venues like the Alexander Stadium and the NIA that already host international athletics, plus Villa Park, Edgbaston, the NEC and the rest - a Birmingham Games would be fantastic. Bringing the bid forward from 2026 is no problem at all - in fact, if needed we could probably host it next year in 2018 and still do a brilliant job.
"Can’t wait to see it happen - I’d call on the Government to select Birmingham for the UK’s bid right away... this is a no-brainer.”
Jabbar Khan, owner of Birmingham’s award-winning Lasan restaurant group:
“Birmingham has a tremendous heritage and has long been a world-class city; it’s high time we were hosting events of this magnitude. What’s more, our welcome is famously warm and visitors will have a fantastic opportunity to experience the city’s vibrant culture and its uniquely colourful culinary scene. Let the games begin!”
Antonio Simoes, chief executive of HSBC Bank plc:
“Birmingham is a dynamic city with a strong track record of hosting major events and it would make a fantastic host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Our roots in the UK began in Birmingham over 180 years ago and we chose the city as the home of HSBC UK’s new head office because of its strong connectivity at the heart of the UK and its ongoing revitalisation.
"We want to build a better bank for our customers and people. A successful bid would be great news for local businesses, the local economy and the Midlands region as a whole.”