Birmingham bids to host Commonwealth Games
Birmingham is preparing an audacious bid to bring the Commonwealth Games to the city.
The ambitious coup is being backed by new council leisure, sport and culture cabinet member Martin Mullaney.
If a bid for either the 2022 or 2026 games is successful, Birmingham stands to gain hundreds of millions of pounds in favourable publicity and spending power from the high-profile event.
It is unclear at the moment whether the city’s application will be based on holding athletics events at Alexander Stadium, or whether like Manchester in the 2002 games, a new stadium would be built – possibly at the Wheels site in Nechells in collaboration with Birmingham City FC.
Diving events would be held at the new £60 million 50 metre swimming pool which is being built next to the National Indoor Arena.
But swimmers will have to make do with a special temporary "tank" inside the NIA, where seating capacity for spectators is far greater than the new pool.
Work on the bid is in the very early stages and there is no indication yet of how Birmingham would foot the bill to bring the games to the city.
The Scottish government has estimated the cost of bringing the 2014 Commonwealth Games to Glasgow at £300 million.
Coun Mullaney (Lib Dem Moseley & Kings Heath) added: "We want to bring the Commonwealth Games to Birmingham in 2022 or 2026, which are the earliest opportunities for the games to come back to the UK after Glasgow.
"Officers are looking at how we can upgrade our facilities in order to put a convincing bid forward."
News of the bid leaked out in an interview given by the city’s assistant director of sports and events, Steve Hollingsworth.
He told the BBC: "It’s about regeneration for the city, raising our game and making sure we’re on a world stage.
"We are seriously looking at it - realistically you’re looking at 2022 or 2026 being in mind for us."
Birmingham has previously failed in a bid to host the Olympic Games, beaten by Barcelona in 1992.
But Mr Hollingsworth is optimistic that the Commonwealth Games would be a viable proposition.
"It’s Glasgow in 2014, then it’s going to go elsewhere, then come back to Britain," he said. "We want to be in a position to bid for it when it’s Britain’s next turn, and I think 2022 is probably the earliest but 2026 more realistic."