Commonwealth Games 2022 – Welcome to the Velodrome

But if Birmingham hosts the Games then track cycling will be in London or Manchester according to Metro Mayor Andy Street, writes Steve Beauchampe.

Midlands Metro Mayor Andy Street has told the Times newspaper that Birmingham plans to stage its 2022 Commonwealth Games track cycling events in either London or Manchester. With the Derby Arena – whose 1,700 capacity falls far short of Commonwealth Games criteria – the closest competition-standard velodrome to Birmingham, and no plans to build an alternative in the West Midlands, Games Bid organisers appear to have been forced to move what is expected to be one of the Games’ most high profile sports up to 110 miles outside the region.

In response a Birmingham City Council spokesperson stated that the Bid team had yet to either publicly confirm track cycling’s inclusion as part of the city’s bid (it is an optional sport) or where it would be staged were it to be so.

But with the finalised bid now with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and a decision on whether the government will support Birmingham or Liverpool as Britain’s potential 2022 candidate expected to be announced in the next 48 hours, it is hard to see any other solution for Birmingham than to utilise either the UK National Cycling Centre at Manchester’s Sportscity (as Liverpool has already confirmed that it will) or the velodrome at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Lee Valley, built for the London Olympics.

However, the prospect of having to travel for several hours to watch a key Games sport will surely be a major disappointment for Birmingham sports fans, following on as it does from the news that cricket will not be included in the 2022 Games.

Meanwhile, Sandwell Council have committed to help finance £30m of the cost of building a 50 metre swimming pool in the borough to be used for aquatics events should Birmingham be awarded the Games. Cabinet Leisure Chairman Richard Marshall confirmed to the Express and Star newspaper that the council, along with other bodies, were committed to finance building the facility in Smethwick, although he refused to identify either of the two possible locations under consideration, stating only that: “There is a site A and site B.”

Birmingham insists that it is following both DCMS and Commonwealth Games Federation guidelines and rules in failing to disclose information about venues, sports and costings to the public, but with several key locations (such as that of the Athletes Village) still being kept secret, and the inclusion of several sports (such as tennis, which was founded in Birmingham) yet to be confirmed, it is hard to know how strong or otherwise Birmingham’s bid is.

Should the city eventually be confirmed as the UK government’s official candidate, a more open approach to the staging of the Games and the costs involved is imperative.