British Athletics has unveiled a new look timetable that will see the world’s biggest Indoor athletics Grand Prix alternate between two cities over the next five years.
And it means that top-class athletics is coming to Glasgow’s Emirates Arena three times in the next five years with a major event to be staged there in 2016, 2018 and 2020.
In fact, that could rise to four in five years if a bid to bring the European Indoor Champs to Scotland in 2019 proves successful.
The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix, ranked the No1 indoor event in the world for the last 10 years, will be alternately hosted by Glasgow and Birmingham between 2016 and 2020, following this year’s event in Birmingham on Feb 21.
With British Athletics having won the bid to host the world indoor championships in Birmingham in 2018, and Glasgow looking to secure the European Indoor Championships in 2019, it is fitting that Glasgow hosts the Sainsbury’s Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix in 2018 – enabling Birmingham to concentrate on staging the best ever World Indoor Championships.
The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix is part of a British Athletics broadcast rights deal with the BBC which guarantees live television coverage of the event on the BBC through to at least 2020.
British Athletics chief executive, Neils de Vos, said: ‘Following the construction of the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, and the extensive redevelopment of the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham we are in the fortunate position of having two genuinely world-class indoor athletics venues capable of hosting events on this scale.
With both cities keen to make the best use of their venues we are delighted to have developed an event strategy which offers both Birmingham and Glasgow the chance to host the sell out Sainsbury’s Indoor GP and pursue our ambitions to bring the world’s best international championships to the UK.
British Athletics Major Event Director Cherry Alexander said: ‘ We feel this is a brilliant outcome for athletics. Glasgow has hosted the International Match so well over the years, and they were understandably keen after the Commonwealth Games to increase the profile of the event to the level that the Indoor Grand Prix in Birmingham enjoyed.
‘This means we will take world class indoor athletics to Scotland every other year for the immediate future, the increase in the quality of competitor fields, the competition programme and the profile will enhance both the spectator and television audience experience.
‘It is also a great result for Birmingham who will be able to focus on delivering the world’s best ever indoor championships in 2018, safe in the knowledge that the world’s best Indoor Grand Prix will still reside within the UK.
‘We look forward to working with both cities simultaneously as they seek to support each other’s ambitions to host world-class athletics over the next five years.’
British Athletics also confirmed that the Glasgow International Match – which has been a fixture in the UK athletics calendar since 1988 – will not be continuing, with this year’s event on January 24 having been the final edition.
That featured a Scotland team in 2014 and 2015 but no TV coverage of this year’s event had an impact. scottishathletics will certainly be looking to see if the Glasgow ‘gap years’ of 2017 and 2019 (if the European bid is unsuccessful) can still feature a signifcant Emirates event – outside of our own domestic championship programme.
Deputy Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, Councillor Archie Graham, said: ‘We are delighted to be continuing our long association with indoor athletics, with the revised Grand Prix format promising to take the sport to a new level.
‘Glasgow’s position as one of the world’s top 10 sporting cities has been built on our continued investment in world-class facilities such as the £113million Emirates Arena and our international events programme.
‘We are determined to build on the success of the best ever Commonwealth Games and look forward to welcoming the world’s top athletes to Glasgow for the Grand Prix – the world’s premier indoor athletics meeting – over the coming years.’
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: ‘Scotland is the perfect stage for major athletics events and it is testament to our capacity, capability and credibility that we have secured the Indoor Grand Prix for 2016, 2018 and 2020.
‘The Emirates Arena is a world-class venue, which has already proven its worth as a home for global sporting events. We look forward to welcoming the international athletics community to Scotland over the coming years as we prepare our bid for the 2019 European Indoor Championships.’
The Sainsbury’s Indoor Grand Prix timetable:
2016 – Glasgow
2017 – Birmingham
2018 – Glasgow (Birmingham hosting IAAF World Indoor Championships)
2019 – Birmingham (Glasgow currently bidding to stage European Indoor Championships)
2020 – Glasgow