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Birmingham 2022 adds major indoor venues to Commonwealth Games plan

Birmingham 2022 has revealed further details about its venue plans for its bid for the Commonwealth Games, with four of the region’s indoor arenas lined up for the multi-sport event.

As part of the selection process, the Birmingham 2022 bid committee said it looked closely at how to utilise Birmingham’s wealth of existing sports venues and facilities, ensuring connectivity and accessibility and maximising spectator numbers.

Central to Birmingham’s bid is the NEC exhibition centre, situated on a site that also includes the Genting Arena with a combined total of 200,000 square metres. It is the UK’s, and one of Europe’s, largest indoor facilities and is also located adjacent to Birmingham International Airport.

Three of the NEC’s largest halls will host boxing, judo, table tennis and freestyle wrestling. In addition to the NEC, the Group also manages the Genting Arena, which will host badminton, and the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham’s city centre, which will host artistic and rhythmic gymnastics. The city’s Symphony Hall has been identified as the host for weightlifting and para powerlifting.

Phil Mead, managing director of NEC Group Arenas and member of the Birmingham 2022 Steering Group, said: “We have invested significantly into our venues in recent years to set us apart from our competitors. We saw at the London 2012 Olympics how a major indoor venue could successfully host multiple sports events and how the public and athletes thrived on the opportunity to experience so many sports in close proximity with a compact Games proposition. We can deliver this and more and believe Birmingham is the only city that can deliver this for 2022.”

Earlier this month, Birmingham detailed its vision for a low cost and low risk staging of the 2022 Commonwealth Games as it submitted its preliminary questionnaire response for bidding to the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

With 95 per cent of the competition venues already in place, Birmingham 2022 claims it has adopted a “prudent and innovative” approach to creating a “low cost, low risk, high quality Games”. An enhanced and refurbished Alexander Stadium will be central to Birmingham’s Games, with officials stating the event will return to the Commonwealth Games tradition of the athletics stadium hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, and will provide a legacy to a core Commonwealth Games sport.

The Birmingham Mail newspaper said other venues are likely to include the University of Birmingham’s hockey pitches, Edgbaston Cricket Stadium, the Perry Park BMX track and Villa Park, home of English Championship football club Aston Villa. Only a competition standard pool will reportedly need to be built from scratch.

Durban in South Africa had originally been selected to stage the 2022 Games, but was stripped of its hosting rights by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) in March amid long-running concerns over financing for the event. Like rival UK bid city Liverpool, Birmingham had originally been targeting the 2026 Games, but has brought forward its plans.

A number of other countries and cities have expressed an interest in replacing Durban as host, with Australia, Malaysia and Canada also in contention. The CGF had been expected to make a decision over the hosting rights for the 2022 Games in the summer, but an announcement is now not expected to be made until early autumn due to the level of interest shown.