Birmingham now favourite to clinch 2022 Games bid Liverpool’s sour grapes as UK backs Midlands
BIRMINGHAM is now favourite to clinch the 2022 Commonwealth Games after it secured the government’s backing as the official UK bid.
The city’s success in clinching the UK bid was welcomed by business and political leaders as Commonwealth Federation judges picked Birmingham ahead of big city rival Liverpool.
But Prime Minister Theresa May said the city must now prove that its plan to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games offers value for money.
She said Birmingham’s bid could proceed “subject to that”, but also told the House of Commons that bringing the games to Birmingham “would present a unique opportunity for the West Midlands, and it would of course promote global Britain across the Comonwealth.”
This week it was revealed that international competition for the Games was slipping away, with Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia now deciding to bid for the 2026 Games instead and a bid from Victoria in Canada failing to win government backing.
Meanwhile, Australia, whose Gold Coast is hosting the 2018 Games, will only step in if no-one else is able to.
So it seems Birmingham’s bid now has no significant international rivals.
Sources within Liverpool’s bid team and council were said to be shocked at losing out to Birmingham.
As late as the night before the decision, those within the Liverpool team were said to be “very confident” that the city was in pole position.
They believed their “transformational” bid and regeneration plan for the north of Liverpool had seriously impressed the games judges.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson said: “I am hugely disappointed because I think we had an excellent and transformational bid that would have been good for Liverpool and the Commonwealth Games in general.
“I think our bid was a gold medal bid and I think the Government have opted for a bronze medal bid, but I do wish Birmingham well.”
A successful Birmingham bid will see major investment ploughed into the city and its neighbours, not only through upgraded sports venues and training facilities – including a brand new aquatics centre on the border in Sandwell – but also new housing and transport schemes.
Local firms and workers will be at the front of the queue for contracts.
The competition to host the Games was opened up after the withdrawal of original host city Durban earlier this year. Timescales to deliver the Games are, as a result, tighter than usual.
But with key venues such as the Alexander Stadium, the NEC and Arena Birmingham, the University of Birmingham and Villa Park already in place, Birmingham had pitched itself as lowcost and deliverable within those three years.
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Councillor Ian Ward, the chairman of Birmingham’s bid, both welcomed the decision to appoint the city as the UK’s candidate.
Now Games authorities, the government and the Birmingham bid team will be working to ensure the final bid is as strong as possible and provides good value for the taxpayer.
Bid committee chairman Ian Ward said: “This is a great endorsement by the UK Government of Birmingham’s credentials to host the Games and recognition of the city’s resolve to deliver a memorable event.
“This is not the end of the journey and we look forward to working with the government as it makes its final decision to support a UK Candidate City.”
> The proposed development of Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium