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Economic Regeneration an the Impact of Major Sporting Events

NEAL COLEMAN CBE, DEPUTY CHAIR OF THE LONDON LEGACY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION


Charlie Macey 25 June 2014


In recent years, there has been increasing competition for the rights to host major sport events. One of the key justifications by those driving bids is that the event can be used as a catalyst for economic regeneration. The 1992 Barcelona Olympics is often cited as an example of successful economic regeneration, with the event having provided the impetus for expenditure on transport infrastructure, office and hotel developments. Neale Coleman, the Deputy Chair of the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC), talked extensively on the economic regeneration associated with the development of the London Olympics in 2012. He explained that the LLDC had become the most talked about best practice in how to deliver a successful 'Olympic' regeneration as a result of their ongoing commitment to the economic revival of East London.

Nevertheless, a government's decision to host a major sporting event remains a contentious public issue. The pubic remains sceptical of the huge financial costs of hosting an event like London 2012 which cost £9 billion in total. Neale was however, keen to break this down: The cost of the venues came in on budget, at a little over £3 billion; the remaining £6 billion was invested in regeneration infrastructure.

He was keen to point out that the rapid nature of many of the construction projects would not have been possible without the Olympics. Furthermore, he argued the hosting of a major event generates a sense of urgency to act on and deliver economic regeneration projects that might not have otherwise happened. This, he felt was is reflected in the UK's decision to host a number of other major events in the near future: the Invictus Games, the Cycling World Championships 2015, Rugby World Cup 2015 and Athletics World Championships 2017.

In the subsequent panel session, the impact on economic generation and indeed legacy was contested by academics in the areas of sports management and sociology. Professor Chris Gratton, professor of Sport Economics at Sheffield Hallam University argued that the 'psychic income' and the 'feel good factor' to be of far greater value to the British people. Maurice Roche, Professor of Sociology at University of Sheffield said that 'we underestimate the cultural output of major sporting events' and that legacy should be considered with much larger timeframes rather than straight after the event.

It was agreed that there is still much to learn from the London Olympics about what impact major sporting event have on the wider economic regeneration. However, whatever the final impact, bidders and the Government should clearly set out the aims of such a bid at the outset and in detail, to fully inform the public what benefits are to be expected.