The organising committee for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham has reworked its venue programme, with netball events moving to the NEC and Villa Park no longer forming part of the plan.
Netball events had previously been planned for the Coventry Indoor Arena but the organising committee cited the “massive increase” in the sport’s profile since England won gold at the 2018 Games as a reason for moving to the larger NEC.
A routine review of venues has also resulted in rugby sevens events being moved from Villa Park to the Ricoh Arena (pictured), home of Premiership rugby club Wasps. Judo and wrestling will now be held on the same site in Coventry.
Villa Park, home of Premier League football club Aston Villa, will no longer host rugby sevens fixtures due to the anticipated early start of the 2022-23 football season ahead of the start of the FIFA World Cup that November in Qatar. The timescale means that Villa is unable to commit to the dates required for the Commonwealth Games in July and August 2022.
Liz Nicholl CBE, president of the International Netball Federation, said: “While the Coventry Arena is an excellent venue, this move to the NEC will increase the capacity significantly. This will be welcomed by the netball family and the significant fan base that our sport now attracts, as seen at the recent Netball World Cup in July 2019 when over 110,000 tickets were sold.”
Birmingham 2022 chief executive Ian Reid added: “As is common practice for all major multi-sport events, we have been considering how best to optimise the mix of venues available to us, making sure we’re being as efficient as possible in terms of usage and cost, and ensuring that we are developing a fantastic experience and showcase for the sport, the athletes, the spectators and the host city and region.
“We are delighted to be able to relocate netball into a larger venue as this sport’s profile has massively increased since the 2017 bid. We’re disappointed that Villa Park will unfortunately no longer be part of our venue portfolio, however we hope to continue working closely with Aston Villa in the run up to the Games.”
Birmingham 2022 recently confirmed that Edgbaston would serve as one of the host venues after women’s Twenty20 cricket was officially added to the programme of events.
The latest venue update has been approved by the Commonwealth Games Federation’s Executive Board ahead of its general assembly in Rwanda, where a team from Birmingham 2022 will present an update on preparations for the event.