“We all know how incredible the Commonwealth Games was for the West Midlands, but last year’s spectacle must be the start of a new sporting journey for our region – not the end.
If we want to keep hosting the world’s biggest sporting events then showcasing our region to sport’s global decision makers is mission critical. That’s why this SportAccord conference is so important – and why I’m delighted we’ve been able to pull it off.
This is the first time the conference has been held in the UK for over a decade, and the last host – Australia’s Gold Coast – secured the 2032 Olympic Games. There is no question therefore just what a major coup this is for the West Midlands, and we now must ensure we make the most of the opportunity and use it as a springboard for our future.”
ANDY STREET, Mayor of the West Midlands
Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region are world-class hubs of culture, delicious cuisine and contemporary living. Nowhere in the country is as easy to reach, with more than 90% of the population within a four-hour travel time thanks to the region’s central location at the heart of the UK. Just over an hour from London and a short train journey to Birmingham Airport, the West Midlands region is a perfect destination to host SportAccord. More than 141 million visitors visit each year.
Comprising three major cities – Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton – and towns and boroughs including Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull and Walsall, the West Midlands was the cradle of the world’s first industrial revolution. The region is a heritage heavyweight, which packs a punch when it comes to sporting history.
The region can lay claim to five of the oldest professional football teams in the world, including Premier League sides Aston Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers. In 1888, Aston Villa’s William McGregor invited other clubs to play regular games of football, creating the Football League.
The West Midlands’ sporting heritage also extends to the oval ball. In 1823, William Webb Ellis picked up the ball and ran on The Close at Rugby School, giving birth to rugby union.
Edgbaston Stadium is Birmingham’s oldest international sporting venue, staging its first Test Match in 1902 and hosting two of the most dramatic Ashes climaxes of the 21st century.
Edgbaston is also the place where Major Harry Gem and JBA Perera created Lawn Tennis in a back garden in Ampton Road in 1859. The suburb remains home to the crucial Wimbledon warm-up tournament, the Birmingham Classic.
Golf is a big deal in these parts too, with The Belfry’s Brabazon course welcoming more Ryder Cups than any other venue.
Building on the success of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, which saw the region warmly welcome 6,500 athletes from 72 nations and territories, Birmingham and the West Midlands boast world-class venues across the sporting spectrum, regularly hosting football, basketball, cricket, athletics, rugby, squash, tennis, netball and ice hockey, among others.
It is fair to say that sport is very much part of Birmingham’s DNA.
Soak up the atmosphere in this compact and accessible city, where the art of noticing soon becomes a cultural game. There is much to enjoy, often in plain sight. Birmingham and the West Midlands have something for everyone.
Birmingham is a modern walkable city, where you can meander through beautiful squares linking the cultural highlights together as you move between your official hotel to the International Convention Centre (ICC), the SportAccord venue – to take part in the World Sport & Business Summit.
A region of legends, inventions and stunning architecture, delegates can revel in the dizzying heights of Birmingham and the West Midlands. Look up and marvel at Birmingham’s breathtaking buildings, many of which have a cultural purpose. The Town Hall, a jewel in the city’s crown, made its debut as a rock and pop venue in the late fifties and sixties. Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath and numerous other bands appeared there – now it is home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.
Visit the Ikon Gallery, a stunning building filled with modern art; or Europe’s largest Library housing a world-class collection of rare books – including the largest Shakespeare collection. Birmingham and the West Midlands region are home to 60 galleries and museums.
Birmingham was the heart of British manufacturing and is still involved in manufacturing today. The National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull is a treasure trove of British motorcycle manufacturing, from its inception to the present day.
Take a walk along the waterways in the heart of the city: “They say there are more canals than Venice,” our President noted with a smile! Enjoy the canal café vibe, sit and ponder the inspiration behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, created by West Midlands resident JRR Tolkien.
After a busy day at SportAccord, head over to the city’s majestic landmark, the Grand Hotel Birmingham – and join colleagues at the ‘After Hours’ bar for refreshments. This is the official Headquarters hotel for the 18th edition of SportAccord. Opened by Isaac Horton back in 1879 to designs by Thomson Plevins, the grande-dame hotel recently underwent a £50 million restoration. Since re-opening its doors, it is now a hub for city meetings, networking, and events which take place in the breathtaking Grand Ballroom.
From stunning scenery to fascinating stories of days gone by, there are opportunities for adventure at every turn in the West Midlands. This is the gateway to historic Stratford-upon-Avon, where you’ll discover live theatre courtesy of the Royal Shakespeare Company and can retrace the footsteps of the Bard himself with Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust. Delve further into the region’s rich history with a trip to Ironbridge Gorge, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Warwick Castle, Coventry Cathedral, or the Black Country Living Museum, home to 26-acres of reconstructed shops, pubs and houses depicting industrial Britain and filming location to the international hit series Peaky Blinders.
Urban landscapes compete with spectacular scenery right on Birmingham’s doorstep. Venture outside when SportAccord draws to a close, and visit the characterful villages scattering the rolling green countryside. Kinesis – ‘movement’ a familiar term in sport, can be linked to aesthesis otherwise known as ‘perception’. Stitching together glimpses of the Birmingham region – kinaesthetically – will take the delegate experience to newer heights. What makes a city beautiful is not just the sum of its parts – as iconic as they may be. SportAccord President Ivo Ferriani summed it Birmingham perfectly: “A city of inventions, iconic landmarks and firsts, Birmingham’s rich tapestry of history, heritage and culture will provide a unique delegate experience for everyone. It is a brilliant Host City for SportAccord.”