The fact that no long-term tenant has yet been announced for the Alexander Stadium after the Commonwealth Games means it risks becoming a ‘white elephant’, one councillor has said.
Speaking at this week’s Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Cllr Paul Tilsley (Lib Dem) said that he was concerned about many of the funding arrangements surrounding the Games, particularly plans to borrow £50 million to help finance the event.
But he also expressed concern about the future of the Alexander Stadium, which is set for a £70 million investment to transform it from its current capacity of 12,700 to 40,000.
As yet no long-term use has been identified for the stadium after the Commonwealth Games , though organisers say that discussions are ongoing.
But Cllr Tilsley says that the lack of a plan at this point in preparations lead him to wonder whether the stadium will become a ‘white elephant’ after the Games.
“It has taken a long long time for us to end up with sufficient information on the financing that we can actually have a sensible discussion and debate. Because the figures have not been forthcoming,” he said.
“What concerns me is the consequences of us adding to our current level of debt and interest repayments.
“Those are my initial concerns, that when we’ve actually got the figures, it concerns me that we’re going to end up with an albatross round our neck, quite frankly.
“The fact of the matter is that we’re going to end up building a stadium with a 40,000 capacity for the Games, which will have a residual capacity of 20,000, and no residual end user.
“Unlike the Olympics, where there was always the potential for either Leyton Orient, who sunk into the national league, or West Ham bidding for it, and you had an end user.
“With the Commonwealth Games in Manchester there was an end user, with what was a particularly innovative financial package put together to cover that.
“We ain’t got one. With the best will in the world, if Solihull Moors were to get into the football league their best attendances have been 1,500, and they’re not going to move 12 miles across the city to the stadium, although that was discussed some time ago.
“And then the other potential end user would be Birmingham Moseley Rugby and Football Club. And we did have a look at the Alexander Stadium some years ago, and the problem for them was as an end user, there isn’t enough run off for try scoring.
“So I am concerned that we are putting ourselves in a position where the Alexander Stadium, unfortunately with £75 million spent on it, is still going to be a white elephant.
“And you can’t call a white elephant anything other than a white elephant.”