2020 Olympic bid
The 2020 Olympic bid was a proposal by Birmingham mayor Larry Langford to prepare an official bid for Birmingham to become the host city of the 2020 Olympic summer games. The notion was first voiced by State Representative John Rogers in 2005 as he lobbied for state funding for a domed stadium in Birmingham.
Langford announced the idea on June 20, 2008 at the opening ceremony of the Alabama Sports Festival at the BJCC Arena. He then presented booklets to the Birmingham City Council at their June 24 meeting, touching on the potential economic impact and possible venues. Key venues that would be needed to host the games were already in the planning stage, including the proposed new stadium and track and swimming facilities at Fair Park.
He hoped to secure public and private funding to come up with $500,000 needed to make a formal application. On July 15 Langford introduced a resolution appointing Ron Creel of Montgomery, the president and CEO of the Alabama Sports Festival, to chair a committee charged with preparing an application.
Reaction to the Mayor's suggestion has been mixed. Even supporters acknowledged that the potential for winning an Olympic bid was miniscule. City Council president Carole Smitherman predicted that the international community would praise the city for its boldness. Councilor William Bell argued that it was worth a shot and that even a failed bid would be harmless. Some familiar with the bid requirements dismissed the idea as ill-conceived. The United States Olympic Committee was preparing Chicago's bid for the 2016 games. If Chicago were selected, the USOC would not apply for the 2020 games at all. And if it did, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston and Philadelphia would be expected to compete for the honor.
To have a chance at a realistic bid, the city would need massive upgrades to the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport, a working mass transit system, thousands of new hotel rooms, unprecedented public and corporate support, and regional cooperation of a kind that has been decidedly lacking.
On September 17 Langford announced the formation of a 20-member "Greater Birmingham 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee" which was tasked with developing a feasibility study by December 2009. Shelia Smoot and Nichelle Gainey were added to the committee soon afterwards. The group's first official action was to draft a letter supporting Chicago's bid for the 2016 games. The IOC eventually awarded the games to Tokyo, Japan.
- Ron Creel, Alabama Sports Festival, chairman
- Alan Blalock, Blalock Design Associates
- Neil Davis, Geoff Clever, Davis Architects
- Brian Mackin, Shannon Ealy, UAB Blazers athletics department
- Vonetta Flowers, Kenneth Marshall, athletes and special advisors
- Nichelle Gainey, Silverstone International
- David Galbaugh, Tonia Whatley, Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitor's Bureau
- Nony Mbaezue, AIM Partners (Alpharetta, Georgia)
- Robert McKenna, Birmingham City Council liaison
- Melvin Miller, Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board
- Ray Hamilton, Reed Prince, Shelby County
- Jay Roberson, Samford Bulldogs athletic department
- Jose Rodriguez, USA Judo
- Darrell Skipper, Skipper Consulting
- Shelia Smoot
- Chris Woods, C. W. Woods Contracting Services
At the invitation of Ron Froehlich, a former president of the International World Games Association, the city sent a delegation to the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia and submitted a bid in 2014 to host the 2021 World Games. Birmingham was selected ahead of Lima, Peru and Ufa, Russia in an announcement on January 22, 2015. Due to the COVID pandemic the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed to 2021 and the World Games were postponed to 2022.
- Bryant, Joseph D. "Birmingham, Alabama, mayor wants Olympics in 2020". The Birmingham News
- Scarbinsky, Kevin (June 23, 2008) "Mayor Larry Langford needs vision checked - Birmingham not ready for Olympics." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 25, 2008) "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford serious about landing 2020 Olympics." The Birmingham News
- Stock, Erin (July 16, 2008) "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford proposes paying the Alabama Sports Festival up to $250,000 to implement plan for 2020 Summer Olympics." The Birmingham News
- Stock, Erin (July 16, 2008) "Head of Alabama Sports Festival will work as volunteer to bring Olympics to Birmingham." The Birmingham News
- Brown, Robbie (August 23, 2008) "Mayor Pushes Skeptical Birmingham to Dream on an Olympic Scale." The New York Times
- Crenshaw, Solomon Jr (September 18, 2008) "Mayor Langford, Creel announce members of the Birmingham 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee." The Birmingham News