Fears over the continued funding of the revamped Alexander Stadium following Birmingham 2022 have been raised by a House of Commons Committee ©Birmingham 2022

A new report published today has cast doubt over the long-term benefits of Birmingham hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, warning the Government had failed to "prioritise" the potential legacy the event it offers to the United Kingdom.

The inquiry also raised concerns about the long-term future of the Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, the main stadium for the Games, which is currently costing Birmingham City Council around £2 million ($2.6 million/€2.4 million) a year to operate.

The House of Commons Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) today published the findings of an inquiry into major sporting and cultural events.

"Although the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games present a great opportunity for the people of the West Midlands, particularly through its volunteer programme, there remains a sense that legacy funding and long-term evaluation have not been sufficiently prioritised," it said.

"This leads us to conclude that, ultimately, there is a lack of an overall vision or direction to the Government’s events policy.

"This needs to be addressed if the UK is to capitalise on the opportunities that major events provide."

The report's publication coincided with Birmingham 2022 making an official presentation today to the Commonwealth Games Federation Executive Board, which is holding its first in-person meeting here for two years. 

Birmingham City Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority are heavily involved in the planning of the Games, due to open on July 28 and conclude on August 8, but ultimately it is the UK Government which is providing most of the £778 million ($1.1 billion/€926 million) funding.

The Committee, chaired by Solihull’s Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) Julian Knight and which included MPs from across the country, visited Birmingham as the part of its inquiry and met Games organisers, including Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid.

The DCMS Committee raised particular fears over the future of Alexander Stadium once the Games is completed.

"We heard how the Games have provided a catalyst for renovating Alexander Stadium, including increasing its spectator capacity," they said.

"The Stadium will also serve as a base for Birmingham City University’s sports and exercise faculty post-Games, and we were told that this legacy usage will help to reduce the venue’s financial pressures on Birmingham City Council.

"We are, however, disappointed that the Council has so far been unable to provide us, even on a confidential basis, with any headline figures relating to such continuing use.

"This does little to assuage our concerns over the robustness of the long-term financial aspirations for Alexander Stadium."

There will also be a new Aquatics Centre in Smethwick, which will become a community facility once the Games are over.

The report found that many of the benefits of Birmingham 2022 are set to be environmental, rather than financial, and include promoting women’s and Paralympic sport, becoming the first carbon neutral Games, enhancing the city’s global reputation and training volunteers.

But the Committee criticised the lack of long-term funding to help ensure the Games made the most of these opportunities.

"The legacy programme is being funded through fundraising and a multi-partnership approach, rather than any allocation from the Games’ core budget," the report said.

"Legacy programmes and independent evaluation are vital for delivering long-term value for money from major events.

"However, current funding structures and limited evaluation periods give the impression that they are not a priority, as illustrated in the case of the Commonwealth Games."

Benefits of Birmingham 2022 could include programmes like the volunteers scheme ©Birmingham 2022
Benefits of Birmingham 2022 could include programmes like the volunteers scheme ©Birmingham 2022

The Committee was also critical at what, they claimed, was a lack of central planning in linking up events like the Commonwealth Games, the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022, which are due to take place in England between July 6 and 31, the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and Coventry’s tenure as City Culture, which has been extended into this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Government is spending a lot of money on this year’s major events,” the report said.

“Yet while individual occasions may well deliver memorable moments, we see no golden thread linking the events or tying them to a vision for the future of this country.”

The DCSM challenged the conclusions of the report.

“We disagree with the committee’s findings,” a spokesman said.

“The UK has a strong history of hosting incredible international events that deliver huge benefits for the nation, creating jobs and increasing investment in towns and cities across the country.”

To read the full report click here.