Blog: 7 June 2017Lessons for Liverpool’s Commonwealth Bid - part 1

Greg Dickson

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Greg Dickson

Planning Director

Manchester office

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In the aftermath of Steve Rotheram’s election to Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, attention will now turn to the delivery of his manifesto pledges and importantly Liverpool’s forthcoming bid to host the Commonwealth Games.

It is early days for the advisors working on the City Council’s bid, but Liverpool is starting from a strong starting point with tremendous sporting pedigree and world class stadia. The city also has an Olympic-standard swimming pool at the Liverpool Aquatics Centre, albeit a diving and training pool would need to be added to meet with the requirements of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Questions over whether Liverpool will base activities around Bramley-Moore Dock, Everton's proposed site for the state-of-the-art £300 million ground, and where the City might site a velodrome to host the cycling competitions at the games, loom large. However, people’s opinion of the opportunity is likely to be influenced by the impact and legacy of the games have on the city over the next 15+ year.

Liverpool has reportedly set aside £500,000 to fund the campaign, but the true cost of hosting the Commonwealth Games is expected to eclipse Glasgow's £550 million bill from the 2014 Games. In order to judge the economic impact, we need to consider it in the round. Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture (ECoC) in 2008 provided an important catalyst for city regeneration and provided a milestone for bringing major capital projects to fruition, including LiverpoolOne, Kings Waterfront, Mann Island and Pier Head.

Ten years on from holding the crown as ECoC, Liverpool should not only reflect on the experience of ECoC in 2008, but also look to the lessons learned by Glasgow in hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014, to inform their approach to the opportunity which lies ahead.  

It is fair to say that there remains a certain degree of public scepticism in relation to the impact of hosting major sporting events and the associated economic, social and environmental regeneration.

In Scotland, it is estimated that around 1,100 jobs and £50 million in GVA were generated each year in the six years leading up to the Glasgow Games. In Glasgow alone, the capital programme is estimated to have supported an average of 600 jobs in the city and contributed £30 million to Glasgow’s GVA each year between 2008-2014.

Alongside this, spending by visitors, volunteers and media is estimated to have supported 3,575 jobs (gross) and contributed £124 million to Scotland’s GVA in 2014. In total, the preparation and delivery of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games is estimated to have contributed £740 million to Scotland’s GVA over the eight-year period from winning the bid in 2007 to hosting the Games in 2014.

Notwithstanding the economics, the legacy of hosting the Commonwealth Games should be far more than the activities which take place on the track and field. The Glasgow Games cultural programme was the first to start a year prior to the Games, and Glasgow 2014 was also the first Commonwealth Games where the Organising Committee operationally brought together all their responsibilities for the non-sport elements of the Games: Queens Baton Relay (QBR), the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and the Culture Programme. In addition, the 2014 Cultural Programme was unprecedented in scale compared to any previous cultural celebrations in Scotland. The programme contained over 3,000 performances and 3,600 exhibition days and was delivered by over 10,000 artists and arts and culture professionals, supported by almost 4,000 volunteers.

The Glasgow Games reached an estimated global audience of 1.5 billion viewers through a range of international television and radio channels, driving major civic pride in the city. Research has shown that Glasgow’s residents embraced the Games, and the majority were supportive of the Games coming to Glasgow and anticipated lasting benefits. The Games were also successful in driving civic pride and of course boosted the economic fortunes of the City; putting Glasgow on the world stage. But three years on has the legacy lived on?

In my next blog, I (with the help of Stephen Tucker) reflect more upon Glasgow’s transformation since the Games, highlighting what Liverpool stands to gain as well as points for consideration for their Commonwealth Bid.

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Metro Mayors, Liverpool, Commonwealth Games, Regeneration, Legacy