Birmingham ready to stage the Brexit Games
Birmingham looks set to host the Brexit Games in 2022 after receiving the nod to stage the Commonwealth Games over fellow hopeful Liverpool.
With Kuala Lumpur now their only international rival and the Commonwealth Games Federation reportedly keen on an English host, Birmingham's moment could finally come - more than three decades after they lost out to Barcelona in a bid to stage the 1992 Olympics.
They still must secure approval from Prime Minister Theresa May and the Treasury, with the costs of staging expected to exceed £600 million.
But politicians are keen to use the event to showcase a post-Brexit vision of 'Global Britain', with culture minister Karen Bradley recently claiming the cost outlay will be offset by the economic benefits of international trade, investment and tourism opportunities.
The Commonwealth Games Federation will make their final decision at a London meeting later this year but after original host, the South African city of Durban, withdrew due to cost fears, they'll want to support the safest option.
And the Malaysian government have yet to back Kuala Lumpur's bid and, while Perth and Melbourne in Australia have also expressed interest, it's thought their commitment is lukewarm, especially with next year's Games being staged on the Gold Coast.
"I am grateful to the bid teams from both Birmingham and Liverpool for their hard work in making the case for their respective cities as potential Commonwealth Games hosts," said sports minister Tracey Crouch.
"Now, after a comprehensive assessment process, the government will look at the final bid proposal from Birmingham and decide if a formal bid will be submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation.
"We need to be completely satisfied that the bid offers overall value for money from hosting the Games and that a strong economic and sporting legacy can be delivered from it.
"The UK has fantastic expertise in hosting the biggest events in sport, as recently showcased at the London 2017 World Para Athletics and IAAF World Championships, and if we are to bid and are selected to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022 I have no doubt that Birmingham would host an excellent sporting spectacle."
Birmingham's proposals draw extensively on existing venues, while Liverpool's bid required more temporary and new facilities, with athletics staged on a temporary track in Everton's new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Birmingham's Alexander Stadium will be expanded from its current capacity of 13,000 to 20,000, with 25,000 additional seats for the Games, hosting the athletics competitions and ceremonies.
Their plan also uses existing venues, such as the National Exhibition Centre, Villa Park and The Barclaycard Arena, plus a new aquatic venue in Sandwell. Cycling will be staged at existing venues in either London or Manchester.
England last staged the Commonwealth Games when Manchester hosted in 2002. The successful event provided the blueprint for the 2012 Olympics, with the city now a regular host of major international events.
Glasgow's staging of the 2014 Commonwealth Games was considered a financial success, raising the city's profile as a major events international venue, with next year's European Sports Championship the next competition staged there.
"Birmingham provided an excellent and inspirational bid and can deliver a Commonwealth Games that will deliver a lasting impact, not just for the city and the West Midlands but the UK as whole," said Commonwealth Games England chief executive Paul Blanchard, part of a six-strong panel that made the decision.