COMMONWEALTH GAMES: North Solihull Sports Centre ‘target’ venue
Hopes have been raised that a revamped Solihull sports venue could be reopened to coincide with next summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Cllr Joe Tildesley, cabinet member for leisure, tourism and sport, is keen to see if an upgrade of outdoor facilities at North Solihull Sports Centre can be ready for the contest in 15 months’ time.
Although the plans have been described as “an aspiration” at this stage, with officers admitting meeting the deadline may prove tricky.
Firmer proposals are starting to emerge about how new and existing events in the borough could tie into the 11-day programme of sport.
There are tentative plans for a “big screen” in Solihull to broadcast coverage and linking in the likes of Solihull Summer Fest and Solihull Jazz Festival – expected to fall either side of the Games.
Councillors were this week presented with a roadmap of key dates, with 465 days to go before Birmingham 2022 gets underway.
Cllr Tildesley said he was keen to see if a formal reopening of the North Solihull site – just a few miles from the NEC, which is among the host venues – could take place during the Games.
The revamp of outdoor facilities – which currently include a running track and astroturf pitch – is set to follow the upgrade of the artificial surface at Tudor Grange.
“Of course it’s going to be difficult with the time constraints,” he said.
“I would love to be able certainly to say to the north of the borough ‘Commonwealth Games is coming, we’re doing this work, we’re going to reopen that facility in the north of the borough and hopefully we might be able to time it’.”
Alison McGrory, the council’s assistant director for stronger communities, said it might be “quite tight” but further discussions would take place.
“Even if July wasn’t achievable … we can try and get it done by the end of the cultural and arts festival in September,” she said.
Solihull Council sees the Games as a major opportunity for the borough, with a global audience of 1.5 billion people and hopes an influx of international visitors will be a significant shot-in-the-arm for local tourism.
As one of the host authorities, officials are involved in discussions around planning and implementation.
Aside from the sporting events themselves, there will be the wider six-month arts festival alluded to at this week’s meeting, as well as events like the Queen’s Baton Relay.
The equivalent of the Olympic torch relay, the procession will include a leg taking in key Solihull landmarks – although the final route is yet to be announced.
There will also be a big emphasis on the “legacy” of the competition, which – for instance – will be used as a springboard to try and encourage more active lifestyles.
“The Games will come and go very quickly, but then we’ve got to make sure the legacy means something,” said Cllr Tildesley
- April/May 2021 – Talks around the Queen’s Baton Relay route
- June-August 2021 – Applications for volunteer roles
- June 2021 – Councillors due to sign-off Solihull-specific spending plans
- July 2021 – Events schedule confirmed, including for six sports at the NEC
- July 2021 – Design of winners’ medals set to be unveiled
- March-September 2022 – Cultural and Arts Festival, to include Solihull events
- July 28-August 8 2022 – Commonwealth Games takes place – there will be 11 days of sport, bookended by an opening and closing ceremony
- July/August 2022 – “Aspirational” date to unveil new North Solihull Sports Centre facilities.
Words: David Irwin, Local Democracy Reporter
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