BCU becomes latest beneficiary of Alexander Stadium legacy plans

Featured image credit: Broomcleaning2006/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size

Birmingham City University (BCU) has announced a £5m (€5.7m/$6.1m) investment to fit out areas of Alexander Stadium to serve as a home for its sports and exercise-related courses.

Alexander Stadium served as the main venue for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. BCU will become the latest organisation to benefit from Birmingham City Council’s plans to ensure the stadium becomes a year-round venue following the conclusion of the Games.

BCU’s sports students will begin studying at the stadium from January 2024, with work currently underway to adapt the venue’s East and West stands to house a range of specialist equipment and teaching facilities for up to 1,200 students.

A lease agreement has been signed between leaders from BCU and Birmingham City Council. As part of the deal, Alexander Stadium will house a collection of equipment, including biomechanics labs, environmental chambers and anti-gravity treadmills.

Professor Philip Plowden, vice-chancellor at BCU, said: “The Alexander Stadium was front-and-centre of the hugely successful Commonwealth Games, which showcased our great city to a global audience. That’s why we’re delighted that our students will soon be calling the venue home.

“As the University for Birmingham, it is our mission to transform the lives of our students, the city and wider society. The Alexander Stadium is the perfect example of this; not only will our sports students benefit from world-class facilities based at an internationally-renowned sporting venue, but we’re also playing our part in securing the legacy of the Commonwealth Games for both the city and future generations.

“It is also fitting to be maintaining our links with Perry Barr, once home to BCU’s main campus for many years until our move to the city’s Eastside. We are looking forward to reconnecting and forging new connections in the area to bring benefits not only to our students but the wider community.”

Councillor Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism at Birmingham City Council, added: “From day one of the project to renovate the stadium, we have been clear its use and purpose had to be about much more than the 11 days of the Commonwealth Games – it had to become one of the focal points of the £700m regeneration of this area of the city.

“We want the stadium complex to become a thriving hub of health, wellbeing, community and educational activity as well as a world-class sporting venue. Having fantastic partners on board, like BCU, will help ensure this.”

The stadium hosted a sold-out athletics programme during the Games and underwent a £72m revamp ahead of the event, with its permanent capacity increasing from 12,700 to 18,000. Temporary seating meant that the stadium could host up to 30,000 spectators during the Games and Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet has been discussing legacy plans for the venue and surrounding parkland.

Since the conclusion of the Games, Birmingham City Council has agreed a deal for the Midlands Hurricanes rugby league team to play at the stadium complex, while plans have also been announced for the site to house UK Athletics’ new Performance Innovation Centre.

In November, Alexander Stadium was awarded hosting rights for the 2026 edition of the European Athletics Championships. It will mark the first time that a British city has hosted the event.

In January, an interim study revealed that last year’s Commonwealth Games contributed at least £870m to the UK economy.