The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games will see 6,500 athletes from 71 different nations along with millions of visitors descend on the region.
And preparations for the major event – from building new sports facilities, to planning the opening and closing ceremonies, to the design of the new logo released today – are already well under way.
It is being hailed as a “games for everyone” with hopes it will bring communities together for the biggest sporting and cultural event ever to be held in the region.
WATCH: New logo connects region
Ian Reid, chief executive officer for Birmingham 2022, said the games will not only showcase sporting talent but also “everything that’s great about this region; the culture, the food and, most importantly, the people that live here.”
“On this day, in three years’ time, millions of people from across the globe will join us in celebrating the opening of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, which is why it will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to truly put this city and vibrant region on the map,” he adds. “The people and the region will make the games stand out. We think we’ve got communities from every Commonwealth nation here.
“It’s so important that all these communities across the region feel engaged whether it’s buying a ticket, watching on TV or being involved in a creative project in their local community linked to games that can leave a legacy,” he said.
Mr Reid also believes the time is right for the city and the rest of the region to take advantage of being under a global spotlight. “We could have 1.5 billion people watching on TV which I think is a platform like no other to showcase what the city has to offer to international audiences,” he says.
As well as new jobs and apprenticeships for local people, businesses will also be capitalise on the staging of a major event on their doorstep.
More than 6,000 firms have signed up to the official business portal, keeping them abreast of the latest contracts and procurement opportunities.
“We are keen to give local businesses the best chance possible to win that work,” he adds.
Meanwhile recruitment is also underway for the organising committee.
The games will also bring new jobs with more than 1,000 people being recruited to help stage the event alongside a team of 10,000 volunteers.
“The organising committee has 40 to 50 people, but it will have 1,100 to 1,200 people come games time. There’s still a lot of recruitment to do,” says Mr Reid.
The organisers have been working with business groups across the region to help spread the word about they can benefit from the event which will run from July 27 to August 7, 2022.
The Black Country Chamber has also vowed to help make the most of the opportunities available in the run up to the sporting celebration.
Chief executive Corin Crane said: “The Black Country Chamber 2022 Business Forum has been running regular events over recent months to give companies the chance to explore business opportunities around Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Our next event is at GTG Training Centre in Willenhall on October 11.
“While the countdown continues to one of the biggest events in the international sporting calendar, companies are invited to attend the free events to find out just how they can get involved.
“With hundreds of contracts and projects up for grabs, the chamber is encouraging companies from all sectors to explore tender opportunities and learn more about the tendering process at each of the events. They can also chat to some of the people involved in organising, or competing, in the games.
“Delivering the 2022 games will be a mammoth task and with access to the Birmingham 2022 Business Portal, along with guidance from the experts on hand to encourage Black Country companies to tender for contracts, we can help bring increased revenue into the region.”
Alan Taylor, chairman of Sandwell Business Ambassadors, said: As one of Birmingham’s closest and best-connected neighbours, Sandwell and its businesses are perfectly placed to benefit from the games in three years’ time.
“Specifically the aquatics centre will bring with it many procurement opportunities and put Sandwell on the map. There will be many significant legacy advantages following these important investments that will benefit the area for many years to come.
“In addition to this, the region’s companies can look to the myriad of supplier contracts that will be on offer, as well as attractive income streams through the hotel and leisure industries.”
Behind the scenes, building work has started on the new sports facilities needed to host events from swimming to athletics, including the new £62m Sandwell Aquatics Centre at Londonderry Playing Fields, in Smethwick.
Once completed, the leisure centre, which will host the swimming and diving events, will have a 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 25m diving pool and a studio pool, as well as 1,000 permanent spectator seats.
Councillor Maria Crompton, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member with responsibility for leisure, said: “Having a venue for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity to inspire Sandwell residents to fulfil their sporting potential. It will also give us a world-class leisure facility that will benefit the people of Sandwell for generations to come.
“The games will bring a massive economic boost for Sandwell, giving people job and development opportunities, as well as encouraging families to be active and participate in physical activity and join sporting clubs.
“Not only that, the games will bring unprecedented tourism to Sandwell, where for two weeks in summer of 2022, all eyes will be on Sandwell as we showcase the diving and swimming events at the new aquatics centre.”
Meanwhile the first stage of construction on the £350 million Games Village site in Perry Barr – which will provide a home away from home for about 6,500 athletes and officials during the summer of 2022 – has also begun.
There will also be a £70m revamp of the Alexander Stadium to increase its capacity from 12,700 to 40,000.
Neil Carney, Birmingham City Council’s programme director for the Commonwealth Games, said: “As we reach the three years to go mark, things are now starting to move towards delivery.
“The council-led projects that are supporting the Games, including the Commonwealth Games Village and revamp of the Alexander Stadium, are progressing on budget and on schedule, with activity set to increase in the months ahead.
“Enthusiasm in Birmingham 2022 is growing and will continue to do so as we get closer to the biggest event in the city’s history – and the long-term post-Games benefits the city will gain in the years to come.”
City of Wolverhampton Council leader, Councillor Ian Brookfield hopes the benefits of Birmingham hosting the sporting event will be widespread.
“There will certainly be opportunities for the City of Wolverhampton around the Commonwealth Games and we have formed a working group to look at how we can maximise those benefits.
“Our business development team will be supporting independent businesses in Wolverhampton to ensure they receive the economic benefits of supply chain opportunities to help them grow.
“We will also be encouraging Wolverhampton residents to get involved and represent our city as volunteers at the games.
“It is a great platform for our public health team to promote health and wellbeing and help families in our community access sporting activities.
“Being just 17 minutes away from Birmingham by train and having strong Metro links means we are also expecting international visitors to the Games to come and explore our many visitor attractions such as Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Grand Theatre and historic parks and houses,” he said.
Boost for tourism
With hundreds of thousands of extra visitors in the region, it’s expected tourism attractions will also receive a welcome boost.
Dudley Zoo director Derek Grove said: “The influx of visitors and competitors to the Commonwealth Games provides an exciting opportunity for Dudley’s tourist sector to showcase the borough.
“The range of Castle Hill attractions offer a diverse visitor experience, with Dudley Zoological Gardens providing a blend of fascinating wildlife and heritage assets on one site and the forthcoming Games will allow us to engage with a new global audience.
“Between now and then we plan to expand the orangutan exhibit; refurbish the tiger enclosure and bring bears back to the 40-acre site alongside continuing to redevelop the existing animal facilities.
“Plus, we’re working with Historic England to restore the fabric of the 11th century Dudley Castle at the heart of the zoological gardens to enable opening up current inaccessible areas.”
Richard Aldred, marketing officer at The Ironbridge Gorge Museums, said: “We’re sure that the region will see an upturn in tourist visitor numbers as a result of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Indeed, the Museum is expecting to welcome extra visitors, both domestic and international, across the time of the Games and in the weeks following. We enjoyed a visitor boost around London 2012 and their cultural programme and look forward to a similar effect in 2022."
'A brilliant coup'
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “The Commonwealth Games is a brilliant coup for the West Midlands, and one that will be a major boost to the whole region.
“Not only will we see a rise in tourism and a significant increase to our economy, but the 2022 games will also leave a legacy across the region for generations to come.
“The Commonwealth Games also presents a great opportunity to show off our wonderful region to the world, and I have no intention of letting that opportunity pass. The West Midlands belongs on the global stage, and that is where the games puts us.”
Today a free community festival of sport, culture and food – the Commonwealth Social – is being held in Birmingham’s Centenary Square to mark the milestone.
It will see the launch of new Birmingham 2022 brand, which was co-created with people from the region through a series of events.
It connects key West Midlands destinations - many of which will host events during the games - bringing their locations together to create a unique ‘B’ shaped design.
““The idea behind today’s Commonwealth Social event is that we wanted to celebrate this major milestone and to give people an indication of what to expect in three years’ time, when the eyes of the world will be focused on Birmingham and the West Midlands region,” said Mr Reid.
Commonwealth Games Federation President Dame Louise Martin said: “With three years to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, the excitement is already palpable.
“Preparations are well underway for the delivery of a spectacular multi-sport event for the people of Birmingham, the West Midlands, England and the Commonwealth.
“Launching the new brand on this special day will also ensure the identity of Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games lasts forever.”
Among those attending the festivities was Team England gymnast Dominick Cunningham, aged 24, who won a team gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
He said: “It’s so exciting that it’s now three years to go until the Commonwealth Games come to Birmingham, my hometown.
“Competing for Team England in Australia last year was an amazing experience and to get to do that again in front of a home crowd full of all of my friends and family would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’m not stopping now, I want that gold for Birmingham.”