Birmingham has been named host city for the 2022 Commonwealth Games – the most expensive sports event to be held in Britain since the London Olympics.
The city’s bid was the only one submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) by the deadline of 30 September, after it was chosen ahead of Liverpool as Britain’s candidate.
The CGF initially deemed the city’s bid was “not fully compliant”.
However, it has now been confirmed as the host of the £750m event.
West Midlands mayor Andy Street described the announcement as a “fantastic Christmas present for our region”.
The bidding process has been beset with problems, with the South African city of Durban awarded the Games in 2015 before being stripped of the event because it did not meet the CGF criteria.
After Birmingham’s bid was initially deemed to not meet the necessary criteria, previously interested cities such as Victoria in Canada and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia were given another two months to apply, but none came forward.
Birmingham’s organisers will now move forward with plans to build the UK’s largest permanent athletics stadium, supplemented by four indoor arenas.
The decision will also enable the council to pursue the purchase of land for the athletes’ village in Perry Barr, one of the city’s northern suburbs.
This will be the third time the Commonwealth Games has been held in Britain since the turn of the century, after Manchester and Glasgow staged the event in 2002 and 2014 respectively.
The Games are expected to take place between 27 July and 7 August 2022.
Louise Martin, president of the CGF, said Canada, Malaysia and Australia have all expressed interest in hosting the Games in 2026 or 2030.
Legacy, cost and ‘an extraordinary opportunity’
Making the announcement at a school in Birmingham, Martin told pupils the Games would “celebrate diversity, create opportunities and drive business links”.
“With its rich history, cultural diversity, youthful dynamism and ambitious spirit, Birmingham embodies all that we cherish about the Commonwealth,” she said.
“We want this to be a brand new chapter in Birmingham’s history, and we want you to be part of that.”
Culture secretary Karen Bradley said Birmingham will put on a “brilliant Games that will showcase the best of Britain to the world and make the entire country proud”.
A central aspect of the bid was a proposal to increase the capacity of Alexander Stadium.
The venue, which is already used to host Diamond League athletics events, will expand from 12,000 to 50,000 for the Games, with a permanent capacity of 25,000.
In addition, a new aquatics centre will be built at Sandwell for swimming, Para-swimming and diving events.
It is thought the government will pay 75% of the cost of hosting the Games, with the other 25% – about £180m – raised locally.
Birmingham City Council leader Ian Ward has said the bid will not affect the council’s provision of public services. A ‘hotel tax’ is one idea reportedly under consideration.
Ian Metcalfe, head of Commonwealth Games England, told BBC Sport the Games will be funded by private backers as well as local and national public funds.
“It’s an extraordinary opportunity for the city and region to showcase itself to the world at a time when we will be leaving Europe and the relationship with our Commonwealth neighbours will be even more important,” he said.
Councilor John Hunt, the leader of the Liberal Democrats at Birmingham City Council said: “I and my colleagues talked intensively to local residents over about the Games. We found opinion equally divided. Some were enthusiastic, some were hostile because of the costs and the disruption and many wanted to ensure the Games leave the area with better facilities and better services.”