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It is nigh on impossible to quantify the impact of major sporting events on a country’s economy, and the economic rationale is often questionable global second quar ter 2014 www.global -br ief ing.org l 71 commonwealth network The Long View minutes due to the new ring road. You could argue that this would have happened eventually, but if you ask anyone from the City Council they will tell you that the Commonwealth Games has led to the investment.” And Grevemberg’s enthusiasm is matched by that of the nation’s politicians. At a time when the eyes of the world are on Scotland and the ongoing question of independence, its ability to take centre stage on an international scale is under scrutiny from both home and abroad. Scotland’s Sports Minister, Shona Robison, told the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka that the Glasgow 2014 Games will be a “powerful catalyst” for economic growth, regeneration and promoting healthy lifestyles. She added that the Games have captured the imagination of young people, with a survey suggesting that 94 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds were interested in them and more than a third are hoping to watch live events at the venues. But how successful can a multi-sport event such as the Commonwealth Games be in providing an economic boost and regeneration to host cities? As far back as the 19th century, the Games were being touted as a conduit for change. Founder of the event, Reverend Astley Cooper, wrote in 1891: “A Pan-Britannic-Pan-Anglican Contest and Festival every four years will increase goodwill and good understanding of the British Empire.” Cooper’s dream was realised in 1930 when the first Commonwealth Games were held in Ontario, Canada. This inaugural event saw 400 athletes from 11 countries take part. Since then they have taken place every four years with the exception of 1942 and 1946, when they were disrupted by World War II. This year, at the 20th Commonwealth Games, Glasgow will play host to 6,500 athletes, representing 71 countries. But the early ideals of bringing the Commonwealth community together have now been displaced by an altogether more 21stcentury aim: to gain as much economic advantage from the event as possible. In an article published by the Institute of International Trade, the five areas deemed to be affected when hosting a mega-sporting event were transport infrastructure, telecommunications systems, sports facility structure, housing and urban culture. Recent Commonwealth Games have proved the point. Manchester laid thousands of metres of fibre optic cables that are now supporting the city’s telecommunications system; Melbourne benefited from a new competition swimming pool, a state-of-theart cycle track and major improvements to the Melbourne Cricket Ground; and Delhi’s standing as an international urban city has risen exponentially as a result of the 2010 Games, with improved roads, a world-class airport and many new business hubs. Despite this, it is nigh on impossible to quantify the impact of major sporting events on a country’s economy, and the economic rationale is often questionable. While such events will leave substantial legacy in terms of infrastructure and urban renewal, much depends upon the extent to which the new facilities fit the broader economic interests. For example, when investment is needed in a country’s basic infrastructure, then a demand for investment into stadiums and sports facilities may be counter intuitive. Will sports stadiums turn into expensive white elephants, using money that would have been better spent on the road system? Grevemberg thinks not, pointing to the example of the Chris Hoy velodrome. “The velodrome is already the most well-used velodrome in the world. Local and regional teams train there, we hold ‘come and try’ days and we have hosted the UCI Junior World Cup. It is there to cater for all levels of cyclist.” Analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests that the economic impact of the Commonwealth Games can be split into three phases: pre-Games, during Games and post-Games. The pre-Games phase includes a boost for construction activity, although the economic benefits are off-set by operational costs. During the Games, revenue from tickets and other sales, job creation and tourism are all cited as benefits, while the costs include operational expenditure, congestion and displaced projects. During the post-Games phase, the benefits are tourism, urban regeneration and international reputation, while the maintenance of structures becomes an expense. Manchester has long been hailed as a city that largely got it right. What the City Council was at pains to avoid was simply seeing the legacy in terms of regenerated or new sporting facilities. The council wanted a much wider legacy including improved educational and personal development opportunities, better community health and more competitiveness among local small to medium-sized businesses. A legacy programme was created – the 2002 Economic and Social Programme for the North West – aimed at ensuring that disadvantaged communities throughout the north west of the UK would benefit from Manchester hosting the event. This programme invested £17.7 million into Games-themed projects across the  Wrestling star turned major event organiser David Grevemberg, CEO of Glasgow 2014


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