How can Birmingham realise the full benefits of the Commonwealth Games beyond 2022?

It is a well-established fact that major sporting events can generate a massive economic boom for their host city. In the two years after the 2012 London Olympics, the UK economy enjoyed a £14.2bn injection of sales and investment from trade and industry, with the economic impact estimated to reach £28-£41bn by 2020.

Benefits Realisation Delivering Commonwealth Games

Now, with the Commonwealth Games heading to Birmingham in 2022, the event promises to help transform the fortunes of the region and deliver long lasting change both for local communities and the wider economy. Birmingham’s location at the heart of the country puts it in prime position to reap the benefits of a successful Games. However, the long-term impact can only be realised if Birmingham plans to prioritise activities that will realise legacy benefits from the very outset. 

Planning a long-term legacy for the Commonwealth Games

It’s not just about getting the city ready for the Games. Planning for legacy is almost more important than planning for the Games themselves, and involves the delivery team focussing on future and legacy benefits from the very beginning. 

With legacy beginning as soon as the Games end, adopting a ‘future focused’ approach around planning to, for and beyond the event is essential. Crucially, this can only be achieved by outlining a clear vision that is supported by prioritisation, strong and clear leadership, and direction setting. 

Managing a portfolio to deliver the Commonwealth Games

The delivery team will need to be constantly thinking about aligning the entire portfolio and programme of works to deliver the outcomes and benefits, not just thinking about the individual projects.  Managing the portfolio for delivery will also require clarity around governance and assurance, along with appropriate resources, stakeholder engagement and financial management. All of these aspects are essential for driving both the programme of works and the individual projects. 

Bringing everything together under the umbrella of one aligned programme of work, linked to the delivery of a defined set of benefits and outcomes, is the only way to ensure that all the different parts of the Games link together to deliver the whole. Using opportunities for common and shared ways of working will generate time and cost efficiencies, supported by a forward-thinking mentality that will be vital for legacy planning and benefits realisation. 

Once the vision is defined and the benefits and outcomes have all been mapped, the programme of work can be defined and initiated, before transitioning into delivery. Key to moving from definition to delivery is the ability to prioritise activity for impact on both benefits and outcomes. 

Prioritisation for impact

Birmingham has a number of large scale development coming forward. HS2 will have a station at Curzon Street, Coventry is the City of Culture. How can the Commonwealth Games help to enhance these existing opportunities and create a long-lasting legacy across the Midlands? 

The ability to create and deliver phased masterplanning must be at the centre of development activities. We need to think of the Games as an opportunity to reshape the region and connect all current and future major projects together. It’s not just about building new infrastructure or a new stadium; it’s about ensuring that the Games will support and enable initiatives that have already been committed to, generating benefits for all the people that call Birmingham home. 

Dubai Creek Harbour is a great international example of how this type of integrated design and programme management can help to create a whole new city region or urban extension. The urban environment was planned from the very outset to support and enable sustainable growth, and represents an exciting approach that could equally be applied to the Commonwealth Games. 


Improving quality of life

Sporting events have the ability to capture the imagination of communities, create long-lasting benefits and improve quality of life. Birmingham has the foundations on which to build a Commonwealth Games legacy that could benefit more people than ever before; ensuring cities and their communities are healthier, happier and ultimately more prosperous for many more years to come.  


Ben Khan

UK Head of Programme Management Ask me a question