Birmingham to bid for 2026 Commonwealth Games

Successful bid will generate over £390 million for local economy and provide lasting legacy.

Birmingham has announced its intention to enter the race to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games and those looking to bring the global sporting event to the city are calling on the entire region to get behind the bid.

With the full support of Birmingham City Council, the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, the West Midlands Combined Authority and Midlands Engine, the bid has the potential to generate in excess of £390 million GVA for the local economy, create thousands of jobs and catapult the region onto the global stage.

Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “We’re calling on the entire region to get behind this bid. The economic benefit, not to mention the excitement and legacy of such an immense sporting event would have on this area, is massive. We are the perfect choice to host the Commonwealth Games.”

As well as being hugely prestigious and showcasing sporting talent from across the globe, the Games have a tangible economic benefit. The Glasgow Games in 2014 generated nearly £740 million worth of GVA for Scotland, and attracted 690,000 additional visitors. The Games in Durban in South Africa in 2022 are expected to create 1,000 jobs directly and a further 4,500 in supply chain businesses.

Cllr John Clancy, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “Birmingham is a fantastic sporting city and we have proven ourselves to be warm, welcoming and friendly hosts to a number of international events in recent years. In addition to the huge economic impact, these events showcase the very best of our city and wider region to the world. I hope that we get to do that yet again in 2026 and you can be sure the Games would be a huge success in Birmingham.”

Planning for the bid will also help boost the city’s transport and housing plans.

Birmingham has a track record of delivering large international sporting events, recently hosting The Ashes at Edgbaston, Rugby World Cup fixtures at Villa Park, Diamond League athletics meetings at the Alexander Stadium, the Aegon Classic tennis championships at the Edgbaston Priory Club, the All England Open Badminton Championships and the UCI BMX Championships.

In addition, the NEC, Genting Arena and Barclaycard Arena as well as the ICC, all routinely host high-profile concerts, conferences and shows. And, next year Birmingham will host the Birmingham International Marathon, while the city also welcomes fixtures of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2018.

Steve Hollis, Deputy and Interim Chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP, said: “Greater Birmingham is perfectly poised to welcome the thousands of sports fans and athletes for the Commonwealth Games in 2026. We are one of the most connected regions in the world with unrivalled transport links, accommodation, world-class venues and entertainment. Unlike other cities considering bidding, we already have significant infrastructure in place and HS2 is also set to be operational from 2026.

“Working collaboratively across the public and private sector has been the cornerstone of our economic success – and it’s that spirit that gives us a great chance of bringing the Games to Birmingham.”

Birmingham was the first city in the United Kingdom to be awarded the title National City of Sport by the Sports Council – and the city and its surrounding area are extremely well placed to host the Games in 2026.

Bob Sleigh, Chairman of the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: “The Combined Authority’s involvement can make for an even stronger bid as it opens up the possibility of using incredible facilities such as The Hawthorns in West Bromwich or the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.”

71 teams will take part in the Commonwealth Games in sports such as athletics, bowls, netball, rugby sevens, gymnastics, swimming and boxing.

Sir John Peace, Chairman of the Midlands Engine, said: “The Commonwealth Games is an incredible opportunity to showcase the Midlands region, one of the largest economic areas outside of London, with the largest population, sitting at the crossroads of Britain. The Games will not only attract interest in the region, but will also provide legacy investment opportunities long after the last race is won.”

Other cities believed to be considering bidding include Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, Edmonton in Canada and Liverpool. Candidates must notify of their intention to bid by March 2018, with the winning city being unveiled in November 2019.

Niels de Vos, CEO, UK Athletics and Championship Director of 2017 World Athletics Championships, who was Director of the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games, said: “Birmingham has the perfect blend of existing facilities, fantastic location, supportive local authority and a sport mad local population – all the key ingredients essential to hosting a successful multi sport Games. But perhaps what marks out the Birmingham bid is the unparalleled track record the city has in staging major sporting events – making it ‘Games Ready’ in a way that I doubt any other bidder could claim to be.”

Birmingham City Council will now commission a full feasibility study and form the Commonwealth Games 2026 bid organising committee to progress the city and region’s ambition to host this high-profile event.