The Mayor of Gold Coast has admitted being surprised at how far Birmingham’s plans to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games have come.
It was just five days ago the Mayor Tom Tate closed the 2018 Games in his home town on the sun drenched coast of Queensland, Australia that he found himself touring Perry Barr’s Alexander Stadium and the site of the athletes village.
Birmingham was only confirmed as host for the 2022 Games in December – after the original host Durban in South Africa dropped out. It means the city has just four, instead of the usual six or seven years to plan and build towards the event.
But already plans are being drawn up to build 1,000 homes on the former Birmingham City University campus as well as transform the wider Perry Barr area – including the rail station and horrendous network of roads.
Mayor Tate said: “You’re way in front. When I came here I thought you’d have a lot to do. You’ve already done one lap of a four lap race to congratulations to Birmingham.”
He was impressed that the village would become housing after Games – a real legacy for the city.
And added that the Games had been historic for Gold Coast. “It was a city changing moment for us in so many different ways. We set out broaden our economy and we set out to have a lot of infrastructure to be there.”
He added that, like Birmingham, Gold Coast had been able to secure funding from central Government. “It was a historic moment which has taken our regional city to an international level,” he said.
He also joked that the city should base the 2022 mascot on its famous red panda. Although the recent World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham had a red panda mascot called Ruby.
Mayor Tate had been in London to address the summit of Commonwealth leaders and took the day out to visit Birmingham.
Birmingham council leader Ian Ward said: “I’m grateful Tom has taken the time and trouble to come to Birmingham so soon after the Commonwealth Games so we can learn from the Gold Coast.”
He added that Birmingham had sent a delegation out to Australia and they had come back with useful information and ideas.
What did Birmingham learn from Gold Coast?
Project manager for Birmingham’s athletes village Ashley Innes, visited the Gold Coast last week.
He said: “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Village will provide over 1,000 much needed new homes for an area of the city where we have identified a need for additional housing, this will be supported by improvements to transport and community infrastructure.
“By coming to the Gold Coast’s athletes village I’ve been able to see, explore and talk with athletes and official about all of the different facilities and services that they require during their time in the village and understand how all of these elements come together on one site.
“This will prove valuable in our thinking about how we make that work in Birmingham, and align them with our long term aspirations for Perry Barr.
“We need to learn everything we can from Gold Coast 2018 – the most recent major Games to feature a village, because in Birmingham we have a golden opportunity to improve the city and its infrastructure that won’t only offer a great home for athletes in the city for a few weeks in the summer of 2022.
“It will improve the standard of living and opportunities available to thousands of citizens for generations to come.”