2022 Commonwealth Games: Preparatory work on Smethwick's state-of-the-art aquatics centre to begin within weeks
Work on a new multi-million pound aquatics centre in the Black Country, which will host swimming and diving events at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, could begin within 12 months.
Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said progress on the facility, which will be built on an as yet unnamed location in the Smethwick area, would gather pace within weeks after Birmingham was confirmed as the host city.
Following the Games, the aquatics centre will act as the main leisure facility in the south of the borough.
The cost of the facility has not yet been revealed, with funding likely to be available from the Commonwealth Games organisers and other sporting bodies.
Councillor Eling said: “Plans will now progress for us to build a brand new, state-of-the-art 50-metre pool and create a massive sporting legacy in the Smethwick area.
“In Sandwell, it gives us a huge regeneration opportunity and we are delighted to be hosting the swimming and diving competitions.
“We will be pressing the button within weeks of the announcement. There needs to be a planning application and detailed designs done. You’re looking at an 18-month build for something of this scale.
“To have this up and running, tested and the lot in the time for the 2022 Games it means we have got to get moving.”
He added: “It will be a fantastic facility for generations to come. You can’t put a price on that.”
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Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games Federation President Louise Martin told the Express & Star cities from Malaysia, Canada and Australia had shown interest in hosting the competition but were judged not to be ready.
But despite facing no competition from overseas and suffering difficulties submitting its own bid, she said Birmingham had ‘earned the right’ to host the Games. Ms Martin added the Black Country would be part of the ‘Games family’ and stood to reap the rewards.
She said: “Birmingham has earned the right to host the Games. I worked with the team for over nine months and for me it is a Commonwealth city. It has the diversity and all the nationalities of the Commonwealth are here. This is the time for Birmingham to showcase itself to the rest of the Commonwealth and with Brexit on the horizon there is no better time to host these Games.
“The West Midlands and the surrounding areas are classified in the Birmingham sector. I know they may not like to hear that but everyone is part of the Games family as opposed to individual cities.”