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Passing the Torch: The Economic Impact of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham


In December 2017, Birmingham was named the official host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Selected ahead of candidates such as Liverpool and Durban, it will be the largest sporting event in the UK following the 2012 Olympic Games that were held in London.

In a recent report by BirminghamLive, West Midlands mayor Andy Street said:

“The success of this bid has depended entirely on the whole of the West Midlands region getting behind it and recognising the benefits it will bring. The Games will provide the opportunity to not only see world-class sport but bring economic and social benefits”.

What are the economic benefits of the 2022 Commonwealth Games?

Hosting the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham will have a hugely positive impact on the city and the wider West Midlands region.

As Birmingham prepares for this large-scale event, it’s easy to be reminded of the economic impact when Glasgow was awarded the games in 2014.

The highly anticipated build-up generated an extra £390 million to Glasgow’s economy and produced around 1,200 jobs annually, attracting 690,000 visitors with a global TV audience of over 1.5 billion viewers.

Such exposure not only showcased the illustrious sports event but also promoted the city as an investment and tourist destination.

“We’ve already seen what large-scale investments such as High-Speed Railway (HS2) and the £8 billion Big City Plan have done to Birmingham, so the announcement of the Commonwealth Games is another added boost to the local economy,” says Josh Baker,  Senior Investment Consultant at SevenCapital.

In addition to the thousands of spectators travelling to Birmingham for the Games, Birmingham City Council projects around 4,500 jobs to be created annually until 2022, supporting engineering and construction companies alongside the hotel and tourism, transport and sports sectors. An estimated £750 million will be contributed to the economy.

These types of large-scale events also tend to radically change the perceptions of a location, showcasing investment potential while simultaneously providing world-class facilities and accelerating regeneration.

For a destination such as Birmingham that is pushing a huge amount of both new developments and regeneration projects, the Commonwealth Games is the ideal platform to highlight exactly how much the Birmingham landscape is changing. From Paradise and Arena Central to HS2 and the redevelopment of Digbeth with Birmingham Smithfield, the spotlight afforded by the Games will shine on a city that is ripe for investment.

The Athletes Village, planned to be erected in Perry Barr, will be part of a wider development of 3,000 homes that will kickstart the regeneration of the area. The Alexander Stadium will be upgraded to 40,000 seats for the Games and then set at 20,000 permanently with the aim of becoming the home of national athletics.

It’ll also help build a trained workforce, providing 12,500 volunteers with the opportunity for training and qualification. A trained and educated workforce is only a boost for investors, helping push Birmingham ahead of similarly attractive regional cities such as Manchester.

A recent study commissioned by the office of the Commonwealth Games estimates a total of 670,000 visitors arrived on the Gold Coast, Australia for the 2018 games in April. This was a 30% increase on the average Gold Coast visitor volume. The economic impact from tourism associated with the Games was also estimated to reach $320 million.

It’ll be vital for Birmingham to plan a long-term legacy for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, especially as there is evidence that the economic and infrastructural impact can be felt long after the event has ended. Such a sporting spectacle adds to the city’s long list of accomplishments in recent years and will certainly prove this city is on the rise for the foreseeable future.

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