Mayor: “Cricket brings in so many people and leaves them wanting to come back”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has hailed Edgbaston cricket ground as a "world-class" sports venue - and pledged to do all he can to keep a strong flow of major matches coming to the stadium and the city of Birmingham.
Mr Street, who was elected the first West Midlands Mayor last month, was at Edgbaston last Saturday to see England preserve their amazing record at the ground by beating Australia in the ICC Champions Trophy.
The mayor was among a record 24,227 crowd which created the customary magnificent atmosphere as England prospered yet again at Fortress Edgbaston.
And the occasion left Mr Street deeply proud of the major match experience at Edgbaston - and it's benefits to Birmingham and the West Midlands region both in sporting terms and beyond.
"It is a world-class experience," he said. "Edgbaston Stadium is a big player on the global cricket stage but hosting major matches there, while bringing top-class sportsmen to the city, also brings so much more to the region.
"The cricket brings in so many people from around the UK and the world and leaves them wanting to come back as soon as possible. The ground has a wonderful atmosphere with spectators who are partisan but also have that humour and energy that makes Edgbaston unique.
"The recent redevelopment turned the stadium into a bowl, a real amphitheatre which generates an atmosphere that, with respect, you just don't get at other grounds.
"But what makes me most proud is that it is not just about the cricket or even the sporting occasion - it's about the whole package for people coming to Birmingham. The warm welcome, the friendliness of the taxi-drivers, good access, security - everything from the moment a visitor steps off the train at New Street. That's something Birmingham and the West Midlands does brilliantly.
"I know how highly-regarded Edgbaston is by the England and Wales Cricket Board - that is clear from the mouth-watering list of major matches at Edgbaston this season and in 2018 and 2019. But I will be adding my voice to those already busy trying to ensure another prize allocation of matches from 2020 onwards.
"As mentioned in my manifesto, I want to see the very best teams from all over the world playing at Edgbaston and will do everything I can to ensure that the biggest sporting events are attracted to the West Midlands region."
As Edgbaston prepares for another full house for the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final between India and Bangladesh today [Thursday], Warwickshire chief executive Neil Snowball warmly welcomed Mr Street's backing.
"We very much appreciate Andy's support and his commitment to helping us keep Edgbaston's place at the top table of world cricket venues, with all the economic benefits that brings for the region," he said.
"We are mindful of the fact that hosting these major matches and making them such a success is very much a collaborative affair. It is a real team effort by ourselves, Birmingham City Council, the West Midlands Combined Authority, Marketing Birmingham and West Midlands Police. And not forgetting the cricket-watchers of Birmingham and surrounding areas who, every year, turn up in great numbers and create that unique Edgbaston atmosphere.
"We really appreciate the input of all those organisations which come together to make the Edgbaston Test match one of the standout sporting events of the UK sporting calendar."