The Commonwealth Games are one of the world’s mega sports events, the third largest in the world, superseded only by the Olympic and Paralympic Games in terms of size and scale.
Having attended four Olympic Games and three Commonwealth Games since 2002 in multiple capacities, I can honestly say, we are in for a spectacular summer of sport and culture and with Birmingham 2022 (B2022) only a week away, we cannot wait!
72 nations and territories, 19 sports, 14,000 volunteers, 6,500 athletes, over 1.2million tickets and a global TV audience of 1.5billion, will truly put Birmingham and the wider West Midlands on the map, as we host the largest event our region has ever seen. The University of Birmingham has signed the most extensive University partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation in history. As an already established global institution, we’re incredibly proud the University is playing such a critical role to deliver the Games as the:
- Principal (largest) Athletes’ Village (hosting 3,500 athletes and teams).
- Official competition venue for hockey and squash (with 48 sessions across 11 days, welcoming up to 180,000 spectators).
- Official training venue for athletics / para-athletics and swimming / para-swimming.
- Official catering provider for athletes, spectators, Games family and Games workforce.
- Official tier 1 partner.
- Presenting partner for the Queen’s Baton Relay (QBR), International route.
- Home to the Department for International Trade (DIT) UK House for the West Midlands Business and Tourism Programme at our city centre venue, “The Exchange”.
Given the Games is being funded with close to a billion pounds of taxpayer’s money, it’s only right the question of “legacy” should be asked and scrutinised. Since London 2012, it’s a word that has been used and confused all too often, as it’s equally important to define what we actually mean when referencing “legacy”.
Our strategy from the outset, has been to identify and focus on the benefits and impact the Games can have for the University, leveraging our well-established expertise and knowledge further and identifying new markets and opportunities an audience of over 1 billion can provide. Therefore, our legacy can be defined into the following categories.
- Capital Legacy – through our partnership with the B2022 Organising Committee, we’ve had an extensive programme of jointly funded capital works to ensure our campus is ready for the Games including investment to re-carpet both water-based hockey pitches to meet FIH standards and the demolition of our old sports pavilion at our competition venue. At the Village, we’ve had multiple accessibility improvements to support the needs of para-athletes as part of the largest integrated para-sport programme that B2022 will deliver, including new wet rooms, upgrades to doors, paths and the construction of a new laundry and social space to support the extensive athlete laundry requirements the Games requires. All of the above will benefit our students, staff and local communities when they return post Games.
- Academic Legacy– from our academics being an integral part of the Queen’s Baton design, recording and monitoring crucial environmental information as it travels the globe, to showcasing our academic expertise via activations in key target markets across the commonwealth and via our new campus in Dubai / at Dubai Expo 2020, we’ve also provided a number of commonwealth students with scholarships and fellowships in support of their academic careers.
- Legacy of Partnerships – Our Games deliverables have created and developed new relationships with multiple Games stakeholders at both a regional and international level, across the public, private and charitable sectors. From Government departments to Commonwealth Games Associations (CGA’s), Games sponsors, media and national tourism, travel and sport’s governing bodies, creating new strategic partnerships that will deliver extensive benefits realisation post Games.
- Reputational Legacy – as the first civic institution dating back to 1900 for the people of Birmingham, we have a proud tradition of engaging our local community in support of widening access and participation as part of our teaching and research excellence. As a world Top 100 University with a goal to become Top 50, the Games is adding further value and credibility in support of our new strategic framework. Additionally, the knowledge gained from our venue and village operations will enable the development of a first ever major events strategy in line with both UK Sport and Birmingham City Council’s new, ten-year, major event strategies, that can also be leveraged to host major events and support future host cities to deliver wider economic benefits.
Not visited our beautiful 270-acre campus yet? Get your ticket for the Games now and we look forward to welcoming you to campus, as the eyes of the world turn to Birmingham to host the largest event in the UK since London 2012 and post the pandemic, on a scale, size and complexity the University has never seen before, in support of making Birmingham 2022 a Games for everyone.
Tom Clift is Head of the University’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Venue and Village operational and logistical commitments, liaising across all internal teams and B2022 Organising Committee functional areas (FA’s) in line with our contractual deliverables. Over twenty years’ experience of working with multiple stakeholders across the public, private and charitable sectors, with specialist sports sector and major events knowledge and expertise across the global sports industry