Alabama

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Birmingham, AL, Tapped for World Games 2021

22 Jan, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
$250 Million Economic Impact Expected

#Boston2024? That’s so two weeks ago. Get ready for the Birmingham, Alabama, hashtag, #bhm2021.

With the recent announcement that the 2021 World Games, a multi-sport festival similar to the Olympics, will be hosted in Birmingham, Alabama, the celebrations are on.

It’s a big win for the city, both in terms of heightened publicity and economic impact, and marks the first time the city has hosted an international multi-sport event. The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau has estimated that the 2021 World Games could bring in approximately $250 million in out-of-town spending, according to AL.com.

Birmingham is the first U.S. city to host the World Games since 1981 when Santa Clara, California, held the inaugural games. The World Games typically attract about 4,000 athletes from more than 100 different nations and include between 25 and 36 sports, including racquetball, squash, sumo, water skiing, body building, canoeing, rugby and taekwondo.

The bidding process had been started by the International World Games Association (IWGA) in early 2014. Birmingham (USA), Lima (Peru) and Ufa (Russia) had applied, and were shortlisted to host the 11th edition of the event.

Local sources say the application was buoyed by the presence of Birmingham’s existing sports facilities – a direct contrast to other cities who are bidding on games, and where officials are exploring (sometimes unpopular) options for acquiring land and building facilities for sports events.

“Birmingham is really fortunate to have the venues we have,” Edgar Welden, co-chairman of the organizing committee and executive director of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, told local news source Village Living Online. “They’re outstanding, and the important thing is we don’t have to go spend money creating, building and investing in venues. We already have the venues we need.”

Birmingham offers all prerequisites to stage an event like The World Games, IWGA President José Perurena  added in an official statement. The city also meets expectations in terms of infrastructure, organizing skills and the support of the city administration and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

"We are happy to showcase our sports in Birmingham in July 2021, and we are sure that we will be offered optimal conditions for our sportsmen and women there,” Perurena noted. “All the bids we received were of very high quality, and it was not easy for us to reach a decision. We have to deliver nothing less than outstanding World Games. We are convinced that Birmingham will exceed these expectations.”

The video used by Birmingham officials to promote the city to the IWGA can be seen here.

Organizers have projected that a $75 million budget will be necessary to host the games, according to AL.com. The majority of funds will come from corporate support, with the City of Birmingham and the State of Alabama also contributing money to the budget. Ticket sales and television revenues are expected to be other sources of operating funds. Birmingham Mayor William Bell said the city has experience in hosting high-profile sporting events and that it’s ready to host the World Games.

"We are grateful that our city has grown into a sports and entertainment destination for world-class events," said Bell. "We have worked hard to be in position to compete and our public-private partnerships are generating short and long-term results. The opportunity to host athletes and sports enthusiasts from around the globe is an honor."

The 10th edition of The World Games will be staged in 2017 in Wroclaw Poland. The IWGA flag will be handed over to the representatives of Birmingham during the closing ceremony in Wroclaw on July 30, 2017.

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