“We felt that Birmingham was just a stronger bid, and that it had the best chance in the international competition,” says Paul Blanchard, CEO of Commonwealth Games England, as he explains how the city came to be chosen as the preferred candidate for the UK’s bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
It had been a close race against Liverpool, however it was Birmingham that was finally chosen by an independent assessment panel, in partnership with officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Blanchard, who sat on the panel, says that the two cities were assessed on 20 criteria, which included venues, proposed sports programmes, infrastructure, transport, technology and athletes’ village plans.
An event to remember
It will now be up to the Government to decide whether to submit an official bid to the Commonwealth Games Federation.
“The Government will make a decision on whether they believe it’s value for money. They’ll assess the budget that’s being put forward, plus the economic impact and many other variables,” explains Blanchard.
Blanchard believes that Birmingham is more than ready to take on the event. “The facilities are around 95 per cent in place. The main facility is the Alexander Stadium, which would host the athletics and the opening and closing ceremonies. It would need a fair amount of overlay to increase the capacity, but that’s a relatively small piece of work.”
He continues: “The single biggest piece of work is the construction of the athletes’ village, but as well as being important for the Games, it’s a massive piece of the post-Games legacy because it would become a 1000-plus unit housing estate.”
Local sports clubs would also benefit, says Blanchard. “Any major games generates interest, and that will hopefully be converted into people seeing particular sports and then wanting to get involved, so there’s a great opportunity for clubs to recruit.
“There will also be more clubs created in the local community as a result of the upgraded Alexander Stadium and the construction of a new swimming pool. There’ll be a lot more opportunities for people to access sport. So, not only would it create demand, it would provide facilities to meet that demand as well.”