Economic impact of 2021 World Games in Birmingham estimated at $256 million

Published: Jan. 22, 2015 at 9:44 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:44 AM CST
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Source: WBRC
Source: WBRC
Source: Ashley Fulmer/ big.com
Source: Ashley Fulmer/ big.com

Lausanne, Switzerland (WBRC) - ?

Birmingham has been selected as the host city for the 2021 World Games.

The International World Games Association announced the selection in Lausanne, Switzerland at 4:42 a.m. CST. Birmingham placed a bid in June 2014. It was the only city from the United States to bid on the games.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for our city, state and region," said Edgar Welden, Co-Chairman for the Birmingham Local Organizing Committee. "The World Games will use numerous venues during the 11-day event and this will be a wonderful way to show case Birmingham and Alabama to the world."

The city competed for the bid against Lima, Peru and Ufa, Russia. All three cities submitted videos and then hosted the site selection committee.

Birmingham City Council President Johnathan Austin and Scott Myers with the state's Sports Hall of Fame traveled to Lausanne making a final push. Austin spoke once the announcement was made and said he's having to pinch himself.

"Birmingham is a city on the move. We are ready. We are readynow to host the games. We would like for the games to start tomorrow," Austin said.

Myers says they have been working on this since July 2013 after visiting a game himself.

The city plans on using venues around the city for the games. Meyers says Birmingham has the capacity to host the games because of all the great sporting venues in the city including Boutwell Auditorium, the BJCC, Crossplex, Barbers Motorsports, Samford, UAB, and Birmingham Southern.

Legion Field will be used for the opening and closing ceremonies.

"This was a tremendous effort involving many companies and individuals throughout Birmingham, including both the public and private sectors, all pulling together and working hard to secure this bid," Myers. "Hosting the 2021 World Games will provide us with a tremendous opportunity to showcase our city to the world."

The World Games will also bring a lot of fans to Birmingham which pleases Birmingham Mayor William Bell.

"You are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars coming into metropolitan area as well as the state," Bell said.

It's estimated 4,500 athletes will come here to compete and that could mean another 35,000 to a 100,000 spectators. The estimated economic impact is close to $256 million.

Birmingham's budget for this is $75 million. The city is spending $3.5 million over the next seven years for the games but most of it is coming from corporate sponsorships.

The city's convention and visitor's bureau pledged $125,000 to make a bid on the games.

The World Games are similar to the Olympics, only much smaller. The games happen every four years and were last hosted in Colombia. They feature lacrosse, bowling, softball and racquetball along with several other sports during the 11-day event.

Governor Robert Bentley released the following statement:

“Congratulations to the city of Birmingham on being chosen to host the 2021 World Games. Alabama has so much to offer and we are eager to roll out the red carpet for our national and international guests. The economic impact of this decision is significant and will provide a great opportunity for our guests to enjoy and explore the the best that Alabama has to offer. The citizens of our state take great pride in our unique brand of southern hospitality, and we look forward to this rare opportunity to invite the world into our home state.

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