Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, believes Birmingham 2022 can create an "exciting template" for future host cities ©Birmingham City Council

Birmingham 2022’s "unique" approach to housing competitors across three separate sites rather than in a purpose-built Athletes’ Village will encourage more cities to host the Commonwealth Games.

That’s the view of Brigid Jones, deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, who is confident organisers of the 2022 Games can create an "exciting template" for future hosts.

Birmingham 2022 had planned to build a £500 million ($368 million/€407 million) Athletes’ Village on the former Birmingham City University site in Perry Barr which was set to provide accommodation for 6,500 athletes and team officials.

But the project was scrapped in August last year after a review into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic found it could not be delivered on time.

Instead, Birmingham 2022 is set to house athletes and support staff in three campuses, with 2,800 staying at the University of Birmingham, 1,900 at the University of Warwick and 1,600 at the National Exhibition Centre (NEC).

Jones reckons the organisers’ "Plan B" might be adopted as the chief strategy by future host cities in a bid to cut costs.

"We are still confident our athletes will have a fantastic time," Jones told insidethegames.

"I think it will be a unique new way of hosting the Games by having athletes closer to the venues and spreading the excitement in different communities rather than just in one place.

"That’s quite an exciting template.

"I hope that this will work and open up the possibility for more cities and countries to host the Games."

The Athletes' Village for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games had been scrapped ©Birmingham 2022
The Athletes' Village for the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games had been scrapped ©Birmingham 2022

The new three-site campus model is expected to be delivered within the overall Games budget of £778 million ($1 billion/€860 million).

Work is also underway to build the £73 million ($99 million/€80 million) Aquatics Centre in Sandwell while the £72.4million ($98.1 million/€80.3 million) redevelopment of the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr is also said to be on track.

"There is no secret that holding an international multi-sport event is an expensive business and a huge amount of those costs go towards the Village," said Jones.

"Whilst that is a fantastic facility to have, if we can prove it can work my hope is that it can open up Games like this to other cities and countries that might not otherwise have a chance.

"The Games is not just about the sports, it is about the jobs, skills and facilities that you leave behind.

"It is about giving a city the chance to shine on the world stage.

"It has been transformational for Birmingham already and I want other cities around the world to have that benefit."

The Council has pledged to contribute £184 million ($248 million/€203 million) to Birmingham 2022 and Jones was pleased to report the Games remained "on budget" despite the financial impact of the global health crisis.

The National Exhibition Centre in Solihull will house athletes during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images
The National Exhibition Centre in Solihull will house athletes during the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

Although the Athletes’ Village will no longer be built, the wider Perry Barr regeneration scheme, with new housing and transport infrastructure, is expected to be delivered.

"Let’s face it, COVID-19 is devastating economies around the world," said Jones.

"We don’t know at the moment how the world is going to bounce back.

"We don’t know how things will look afterwards.

"There was a long period of austerity after our last recession, so I think keeping costs down is good.

"From an environmental point of view, we won’t have to put in all the things for the Village now and we also won’t have to rip them out, so there are inherent environmental savings as well which I think is really important.

"None of us saw the pandemic coming and thought we might have to have a Plan B for the Athletes’ Village.

"But when that became clear our university partners and the NEC Group really stepped up and I think it’s a really great opportunity for them as well to have those world-class athletes on their campuses.

"That’s really exciting for those areas."

The majority of venues for Birmingham 2022 will be in the city itself, but events are also set to take place in Coventry, Leamington Spa and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

The Commonwealth Games are scheduled to take place from July 28 to August 8 in 2022 and will be the first major multi-sport event to offer more medals for women than men.