Birmingham unveils bold goal to host 8 more major international events - including Eurovision

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Resorts World Arena confirmed as venue for Birmingham Eurovision Song Contest bid as city unveils goal to host 8 more major international events following the 2022 Commonwelath Games

Bold ambitions for the West Midlands to host at least eight further global events in the next five years have been unveiled as the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games begin.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street and Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward outlined the strategy to journalists at a press conference at the Council House yesterday (Wednesday, July 27) ahead of the Queen’s Baton Relay arriving in Victoria Square.

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One of the key bids already in is for the Eurovision Song Contest 2023 to be held in the city, with Resorts World Arena officially being identified as the chosen venue for this goal. The venue has cleared its diary in anticipation that it will be successful.

The regional leaders said their aim is for the West Midlands to secure a minimum of eight major international events before 2027.

A further bid is also in place to host the European Athletics Championships in 2026.

The press conference was also told how the city has already secured the rights to host two further sporting events in 2023 - the Trampoline Gymnastics World Championships and IBSA (International Blind Sports Federation) World Games.

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Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, NEC MD Guy Dunstan and Sporting Futures Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, NEC MD Guy Dunstan and Sporting Futures
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, NEC MD Guy Dunstan and Sporting Futures

Any more details about the bid to host the Eurovision Song Contest 2023?

The UK was named as the host nation for Eurovision by the European Broadcasting Union after it decided that it could not be held in the winning country Ukraine due to the ongoing war.

Birmingham is no stranger to the Eurovision Song Contest having hosted the last event of its kind on UK shores back in 1998, at the NEC Group’s then National Indoor Arena (NIA), now Utilita Arena Birmingham.

Resorts World Arena hosted the successful Concert for Ukraine earlier this year and broadcast on ITV, bringing together some of the world’s biggest artists to help raise a staggering £13.4million for the Disasters Emergency Committee’s Ukraine Humanitarian appeal (DEC).

Guy Dunstan, Managing Director for NEC Group Ticketing and Arenas, concluded: “With the NEC Group’s wealth of knowledge in hosting major international events, we firmly believe we can support our partners in realising the potential of this strategy and host a historic Eurovision that would make our friends in Ukraine proud.

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“Birmingham and the wider West Midlands is rich in diversity and there is a real community cohesion which has been strengthened further by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. It is all these complimentary components, plus the world class facilities of our venues, that make our region the perfect platform to host events that inspire and unite.”

Concert for Ukraine at Resorts World ArenaConcert for Ukraine at Resorts World Arena
Concert for Ukraine at Resorts World Arena

Who else is bidding to host the European Athletics Championships in 2026?

Birmingham and Budapest are vying for the right to host the European Athletics Championships in 2026, with the Birmingham bid based around the use of the redeveloped £72million Alexander Stadium, which was partly funded to the tune of £25million by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).

An announcement on the 2026 host is expected by the end of this year.

Comic Relief founder Sir Lenny Henry carries the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton at Victoria Square BirminghamComic Relief founder Sir Lenny Henry carries the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton at Victoria Square Birmingham
Comic Relief founder Sir Lenny Henry carries the Birmingham 2022 Queen's Baton at Victoria Square Birmingham

What are the other national and international events that are staged in Birmingham and the West Midlands?

Mayor Andy Street and Cllr Ian Ward pointed out that the region already has an impressive portfolio of events including the Birmingham Classic WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) tournament, international cricket at Edgbaston and the All England Open Badminton Championships.

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This is in addition to regular non-sporting occasions such as the Conservative Party Conference, which is returning to the city this autumn.

In addition to the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest, Birmingham has also hosted G8 summits, World Cup Rugby, two editions of the World Indoor Athletics Championships, and a Papal visit.”

 Russian President Boris Yeltsin adjusts his earphones as he attends the final session of the G8 economic summit held in Birmingham 17 May (Credit  STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images) Russian President Boris Yeltsin adjusts his earphones as he attends the final session of the G8 economic summit held in Birmingham 17 May (Credit  STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images)
Russian President Boris Yeltsin adjusts his earphones as he attends the final session of the G8 economic summit held in Birmingham 17 May (Credit STEPHEN JAFFE/AFP via Getty Images)

What is being done to achieve these bold events ambitions?

Cllr Ward said it has launched a Major Sporting Events Strategy which outlines a ten-year roadmap to ensure all events are pursued to help address the city’s wider challenges, by having a purpose and a positive impact for local businesses, communities and people.

This is running alongside the West Midlands Major Events Strategy which is aimed at elevating and enhancing the status of Birmingham and the West Midlands as a world class host of major events - nationally and internationally.

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During the Commonwealth Games meetings are planned with a number of international sporting federations and a thought leadership conference is set to be hosted in the region this November to ensure emerging trends and opportunities are capitalised upon.

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian WardBirmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward

What has the Leader of Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Mayor said about these plans in their own words?

Cllr Ian Ward, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: "For many decades Birmingham has developed a deserved reputation as a city that hosts world-class events and we know that our city is hugely popular with athletes, performers and spectators, who all know they’re guaranteed a warm, friendly welcome.

“We’ve hosted G8 summits, World Cup Rugby, two editions of the World Indoor Athletics Championships, a Papal visit, the Eurovision Song Contest, international football fixtures and now the Commonwealth Games – a huge multi-sport event, delivered in half the usual time.

“Each of these events has offered a great boost for our economy, as well as bringing people together to celebrate all that is great about our city. I have no doubt that people will look back on the Commonwealth Games as the moment when Birmingham stepped up another level and changed for the better. The Games are our shop window to the world to underline to event organisers and international federations that now is the time to consider Birmingham as a future host for major global events.”

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West Midlands Mayor Andy StreetWest Midlands Mayor Andy Street
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Chair of the WMCA, said: “The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games are a brilliant launchpad for the West Midlands to establish itself as the region of choice for major events of the future and to show the world what we can do.

“We have a great group of partners here including the local councils and the West Midlands Growth Company, who have a shared ambition and determination to develop this sector of our economy, and build our worldwide reputation.

“Through the Business and Tourism Programme being run during the Games we are showcasing the best of the region to the world - and are already considering exciting live event opportunities, so the coming years are full of real promise for the West Midlands.

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