Work on the University of Birmingham’s brand new £55m sports centre has now begun, and to celebrate, local people, staff and students past and present are being invited to have their say in who the facility should honour. 

The University has today (Thursday) launched a new contest, called Name of the Game, to give people the chance to name the new gym within the sports centre by voting for one of three sporting heroes who have pledged their support to the project. 

Paralympian swimmer Ellie Simmonds, test cricketer Gladstone Small, and World Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington are the stars whose name could be emblazoned above the gym doors  – and anyone wanting to vote can do so by either text or via a new website.

Each sporting hero has their own reason for wanting to see the state-of-the-art sports centre up and running in Birmingham – and a short video message from each of the stars can be seen at Votes can be cast via the website which also offers a sneak peek at what the finished facilities will look like, plus some great games that reveal fascinating facts about the new sports centre. You can also follow the campaign on Twitter at @voteNOTG.

Voters can also have their say by texting ‘GLADSTONE’, ‘ELLIE’ or ‘CHRISSIE’ to 70099. Texts cost £1 plus standard network rate, and voters must ask bill payer’s permission. All money raised will be donated to the new sports centre development.

Chrissie Wellington explained her backing for the campaign and said: "The University of Birmingham was the springboard to greatness for me. If I was to have the gym named after me it would mean that my legacy has gone beyond my number of victories and will be cemented in the lives of the people of Birmingham. That would truly mean more to me than I could ever express."

Ellie Simmonds added: “"The sports centre will help the city of Birmingham and get the whole community together. I'm from near Birmingham so it would be amazing to have the gym named after me and to be honoured in this way."

And Gladstone Small said: “It’s a great city, Birmingham. It’s my home, I love this place but the training facilities and health and fitness areas are lacking, sadly. This facility here at the university is very much needed, so for me it can’t come soon enough and I support this campaign wholeheartedly. “

The sports centre, which will be open to students, staff and the wider community is being supported by a £2m grant from Sport England and donations from alumni and friends of the University. It will  feature Birmingham’s only 50m swimming pool, an arena sports hall with seating for up to 900 spectators, six squash courts, six activity rooms for a wide range of sport and fitness classes, a 225 station gym and various other facilities. 

The 13,200sqm development will also boast a purpose designed Well Being and Performance Centre, making it one of the UK’s leading indoor sports centres. 

Director of sport at the University, Zena Wooldridge, said: ‘We are delighted that so many people from our University community and from the city have already committed to supporting this project, enhancing the funding from Sport England. This generous philanthropic support makes a real difference to our plans, enabling the University to create a building filled with specialist equipment that genuinely reflects Birmingham's status as one of the top three universities for sport in the UK and creates opportunities for people across our community.’

The Name of the Game is being run by University’s Development, Alumni and Business Engagement department who have been welcoming additional support for the sports centre from alumni and friends of the University as part of the Circles of influence campaign. 

  • Images of Gladstone Small, Ellie Simmonds and Chrissie Wellington available. Artist’s impression of the new sports centre is also available.

For more information, please contact Kara Griffiths, communications manager – estates development on +44 (0)7789 921163.