Ian Ward said his emotions were "pride and excitement" after Birmingham's staging of the 2022 Commonwealth Games ©Getty Images

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward has claimed here that the English city's staging of the Commonwealth Games earlier this year is "just the start".

Addressing attendees of the Host City 2022 Conference and Exhibition in Glasgow via videolink, Ward shared Birmingham's experience of staging the Commonwealth Games from July 28 to August 8.

Ward detailed how previous editions of the multi-sport event in the United Kingdom, namely Manchester 2002 and Glasgow 2014, "fuelled my personal ambition for Birmingham to host the Commonwealth Games".

Birmingham stepped in as host in 2017 after Durban in South Africa was stripped of the rights, and Ward rebuffed sceptics who had disputed whether the city could fund the event or deliver it in a shortened timeframe, arguing that the results had shown that "the truth is that Birmingham really could not afford to not host the Games".

Ward expressed his delight at how the Commonwealth Games panned out, and vowed that it could serve as a catalyst for boosting Birmingham's reputation.

"I'm filled with two overwhelming emotions - pride and excitement," he said.

"Pride because [for] the 11 days at the start of August Birmingham was in the spotlight like never before.

"And excitement because I know that hosting the 2022 edition of the Commonwealth Games is just the start for Birmingham.

"The opportunity [is there] to change our image, both nationally and internationally, and to draw in further investment to the city."

Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward shared the city's experience of staging the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to Host City 2022 ©ITG
Birmingham City Council Leader Ian Ward shared the city's experience of staging the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to Host City 2022 ©ITG

Ward spoke of a "golden decade of opportunity for the people, communities and businesses of Birmingham and the wider region", and said that perception survey results of the city had been "extremely encouraging".

He pointed to data which showed that the number of people actively considering visiting the city from Australia is up 22 percentage points and up 21 percentage points for those from India, two key target markets.

Last week, the 2026 European Athletics Championships became the latest high-profile event to be awarded to the city, and Ward insisted that more would follow.

"This is a city and a region that stages world-class events as well as anywhere in the world, and our thoughts are already turning to more in the future," he said.

"Through the Business and Tourism Programme, we've already secured 10 conferences and sporting events, including the Commonwealth Esports Championships, the International Ceramics Conference and the International Working Group World Conference on Women and Sport 2026, the world's largest gathering of experts on gender equity in sport and physical activity."

Ambitions to stage the Invictus Games and matches as part of the joint UK and Ireland bid for football's 2028 European Championship were also mentioned by the City Council Leader.

Ward promised that the City Council would ensure that "the real winners of the Games are the people of Birmingham", citing 12 legacy programmes created by Birmingham 2022 and £700 million ($830 million/€800 million) of investment on new homes, transport infrastructure and other facilities in Perry Barr, the region which includes the main Alexander Stadium.