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Birmingham Commonwealth Games a Year On: What’s The Legacy?

Summer 2022 was a historic one for Birmingham. The Commonwealth Games brought competitors and spectators from around the world to participate in elite sporting events in stunning venues. The city came alive with a programme of activities and celebrations that showcased its vibrancy and optimism.

A year on, what’s the legacy of the games for the city? Was it a ‘flash in the pan’ moment with no lasting benefits, or has it helped to foster new economic activity and opportunities across the city and the region?

It’s still early days, with many of the benefits likely to be seen over the longer term, but the early data paints an encouraging picture.

A positive economic and social legacy from the 2022 events will be critical to achieving the wider vision for a sustainable, growing economy that delivers a broad spectrum of benefits for residents. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the key highlights that the data reveals.

 

Employment & Investment

Launched in 2021, the Business and Tourism Programme (BATP) was a crucial component of the legacy agenda. It was charged with the mission of using the games to attract investment, boost long-term visitor numbers and create new employment opportunities. The BATP was set up as a partnership between the West Midlands Growth Company (WMGC) and the Department for Digital Culture, Media & Sport.

The scheme was officially wound up at the end of July this year when the initial statistics highlighted the progress that has been made. Encouragingly,  More than 2,600 jobs have already been delivered, across a range of sectors.

This job growth has been driven by 60 foreign investment projects to the West Midlands, stimulated and supported by 450 global events. The Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has contributed more than £430 million to the regional economy, with the BATP programme already securing 20 business and sporting events. This means the programme has met its target 4 years ahead of schedule.

 

Record-Breaking Visitor Numbers

The event brought record numbers of visitors to the West Midlands conurbation, representing a 5% rise on the 2019 pre-pandemic numbers according to industry analysts.  The region attracted 141.2 million visitors, with spending seeing a 7% increase compared to pre-covid figures. 4% of this figure was spent on retail.

The challenge is to sustain that increase over the short to longer term, but the increased recognition of the area sparked by the games, and a better understanding of its attractiveness is likely to prove beneficial.

Research conducted by the West Midlands Growth Company found that one-third of leisure travellers recalled seeing BATP marketing campaigns, with 85% declaring they had an improved perception of the region.

 

A New Home for Ozzy

For many viewers, the highlight of last year’s Commonwealth Games opening ceremony was the appearance of a mechanised bull. The Raging Bull, which has been renamed ‘Ozzy’ by an online poll in honour of Brummie rock legend, Ozzy Osbourne, has been rebuilt and resited to New Street Station. The 10-metre-high bull appeared alongside 50 women chain makers to tell the story of the region’s industrial might.

As a symbol of the city’s determination, capacity for hard work and reinvention, it’s a great one. It will now greet visitors to the city and stand as a lasting legacy to the city’s remarkable story.

 

Just The Beginning

The Birmingham Commonwealth Games contributed a so-called ‘Halo Effect’ to the city and the region. This is when key, landmark events such as a huge sporting event shine a positive light on a city, through aspects such as strong organisation, athletic excellence and cultural vibrancy.

It’s also been instrumental in sparkling new initiatives such as learning water safety skills. This is part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games legacy project and has helped to make a difference in the lives of young people. Fit, Fed and Swimming Breakfast Clubs run at five leisure centres across the city where young people can access free water safety skills lessons and free breakfasts before school.

The Games have acted as a catalyst for positive change and presented a moment for the city to challenge unfounded assumptions about the region and to show a modern, vibrant and forward-looking city to the world. If the early data is anything to go by, its looks as if the event’s legacy has already exceeded expectations.

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