Birmingham City University (BCU) have announces a major £5 million investment to fit out the areas of the city’s Alexander Stadium that will serve as a world-class home for its sports and exercise-related courses. The eyes of the world were on the iconic stadium last summer when it hosted key events as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - including the opening and closing ceremonies.
And the stadium will now play host to an altogether different type of sporting success as BCU’s sports students will begin studying at the stadium in Perry Barr from January 2024. Work is currently underway to adapt the stadium’s East and West stands to house a range of specialist equipment and teaching facilities which will eventually be the base for up to 1,200 BCU students. Leaders from Birmingham City University and Birmingham City Council met today to publicly sign the lease for the latest major milestone in the Alexander Stadium’s story, which will see BCU become one of the venue’s tenants alongside organisations including UK Athletics and the famous athletics club Birchfield Harriers.
Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “The Alexander Stadium was front-and-centre of the hugely successful Commonwealth Games, which showcased our great city to a global audience. That’s why we’re delighted that our students will soon be calling the venue home.
“As the University for Birmingham, it is our mission to transform the lives of our students, the city and wider society. The Alexander Stadium is the perfect example of this; not only will our sports students benefit from world-class facilities based at an internationally-renowned sporting venue, but we’re also playing our part in securing the legacy of the Commonwealth Games for both the city and future generations.
“It is also fitting to be maintaining our links with Perry Barr, once home to BCU’s main campus for many years until our move to the city’s Eastside. We are looking forward to reconnecting and forging new connections in the area to bring benefits not only to our students but the wider community.”
Councillor Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism at Birmingham City Council, added: “We’re thrilled BCU are returning to their spiritual home of Perry Barr.
“From day one of the project to renovate the stadium, we have been clear its use and purpose had to be about much more than the 11 days of the Commonwealth Games – it had to become one of the focal points of the £700 million regeneration of this area of the city. We want the stadium complex to become a thriving hub of health, wellbeing, community and educational activity as well as a world-class sporting venue. Having fantastic partners on board, like BCU, will help ensure this.”
The Alexander Stadium will house a comprehensive collection of cutting-edge equipment – including biomechanics labs, environmental chambers and anti-gravity treadmills – providing the best possible environment for elite sports and exercise teaching and learning. Birmingham City University’s teaching space at the Stadium will provide the perfect setting for a new generation of sports therapists, sports scientists, nutritionists, sports coaches, and other sports professionals
Dr Matt Cole, Course Director of the Sports and Exercise at Birmingham City University, said: “Our students will have access to increased placement, research, and partnership opportunities which will further enhance the ability for our students to be ‘employability-ready’ upon graduation, as well as increasing our capacity to impact/engage with professional sports organisations and community partners.
“Additionally, the opportunities afforded by our access to international standard sporting facilities, such as the Stadium track & In-field and Strength and Conditioning suite will enable all BCU students to further participate, compete, and excel in wide range of University Sports through our BCU Sport offering. This will help to establish our growing reputation as the destination of choice for students who have either academic or sport interests.”
The University originally launched its sports and exercise courses in 2017. Since then, the courses have proven hugely popular with students preparing for careers in the sporting industries. BCU’s history in the Perry Barr area dates back to the opening of North Birmingham Technical College in 1966, later incorporated into Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971.