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Culture Secretary speaks of success and legacy of Games on visit

The Culture Secretary has said that the legacy of the Commonwealth Games can be far-reaching across the region.

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Culture secretary Michelle Donelan said she was very impressed by Alexander Stadium and said the legacy of the Commonwealth Games was far-reaching

Michelle Donelan said the Games could help to keep people active, produce more job opportunities and continue to bring communities in Birmingham and across the Black Country together.

Ms Donelan was in the region to take a guided tour of Alexander Stadium in Perry Barr, which was one of the main hubs of activity during the 2022 Commonwealth Games as the Athletics venue and also hosting the opening and closing ceremonies.

She was shown the work that had gone in to renovating the stadium since the end of the Games, with the temporary seating at both ends of the track being taken down and updates to the surrounding area, such as new parking areas and ecological projects.

She also was given a presentation on how the stadium and park was being converted for public use by Birmingham Council Leader Councillor Ian Ward and Head of Sport and Physical Activity at Birmingham City Council Dave Wagg.

Dave Wagg, Head of Sport and Physical Activity at Birmingham City Council, tells the secretary about the plans ahead for the stadium

Ms Donelan said it was the first time she'd been able to see the stadium in person, having been unable to attend the Games in person due to a broken foot, and spoke warmly about it.

She said: "I think it's an incredible facility and Birmingham is very fortunate to have it and I'm sure that it will be used in many different ways over the coming years to the benefit of local people and different sporting organisations.

"It was disappointing that I couldn't attend the Games in person as there was such a great atmosphere and these events always bring people together and renew a sense of national pride.

"I thought it was just wonderful to see and it made everyone want to go out and play sport and get active again, which is a great message to send out."

Ms Donelan also spoke of the Games legacy and how it could improve sports performance and infrastructure around the region.

Councillor Ian Ward and Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan enjoy a chat overlooking Alexander Stadium

She said: "The legacies include people being able to get active and have fantastic arenas like this, along with the job opportunities that this has created and bringing communities together, as well as this being a venue for events in the future.

"All of the infrastructure that was put in place for the Commonwealth Games and making sure it then lasts and can be used by local people is a key aim and goal by everyone involved and I know that people like Andy Street are very passionate about this.

"Sports events are huge boosters to our economy as people come and stay in hotels and eat in restaurants and go and travel to an area that they've never been to before, so they have a lasting impact."

A report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport released on Tuesday announced findings from an independent interim report which showed that Birmingham 2022 has already contributed £870 million to the UK economy.

It also supported the equivalent of 9,000 full time jobs, sold 1.5 million tickets, and attracted investment for local businesses and Ms Donelan said she was delighted with the findings of the report.

She said: "I was very delighted as we always knew it was going to have a net benefit because it drew so many people and was attended by more people than any other Commonwealth Games in the UK.

"We knew it was a great success and everybody who worked on it worked extremely hard, so it's wonderful to see that figure.

"Obviously, that's just the beginning because I think it will increase over the years as the legacy work continues."

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