Feature: Why legacy counts

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Countries and cities have various reasons for bidding to host an event, not just financial, writes Rachael Church–Sanders, editorial director of MEI. These can range from improving the image of the city/country and putting it firmly on the sporting map in terms of attracting future events or creating a positive economic impact from increased tourism, to building venues and facilities that will ultimately enhance the health of a nation and lead to the development of new sporting stars. Improved infrastructure (e.g. transport and telecoms) can also improve a nation. Successful events can also grow new audiences and participants in sport which also makes legacy a key criteria for federations that rely on television and sponsorship rights.

Cities and countries are unlikely to win the right to host major sports events without a robust legacy plan in place. Legacy planning therefore needs to be central to any bid for a major sporting event. "Legacy planning is critical in my opinion, " explained sports events consultant Richard Callicott, formerly head of sport for the city of Birmingham in the UK. "It needs to be on the front page of any event's business plan. A lot of the legacy that goes wrong is still down to white elephants so that needs careful consideration. Event organisers must also make sure they do not stage an event without linking it to community legacy, otherwise it just becomes another event. Obviously financial gain is important–an event must be able to wash its face–but if an event is to be truly meaningful then the governing body needs to look beyond the finances and use the event to grow their sport. ""Hosting an event should be about the benefits that will have an impact on a nation sooner than if an event wasn't held. It's not about money in and money out, " added an industry source. Types of legacyBased in London, but with a track record of working in over 30 countries worldwide and with 20 years experience, PMPLegacy helps cities, local organising committees and national federations in bidding, winning, planning and delivering major sporting events. PMPLegacy's founder director Peter Mann, who is also chairman of the annual Legacy Lives conference, said that there are five main areas when it comes to considering legacy. "These tend to relate to sport; culture; social and educational; economic and environmental; and tourism. The industry is becoming increasingly sophisticated about what legacy means. " Sports industry benefitsAnother type of legacy that Mann has witnessed relates to the collaborations and partnerships that can come out of staging word–class events. "Stakeholders are getting together and working together and forming initiatives and relationships that will continue long after an event. The strangest of bedfellows can find commonality in unexpected places just through sitting down together. "Industry consultant Jon Wigley added: "When people think about legacy they normally think about facilities ad infrastructure, but a legacy can also be created through training staff and volunteers. A major sports event provides an unique experience for people to highly develop new skills. Obviously a major event is extremely challenging and I can see the appeal of hiring experienced journeymen as well–it's like buying insurance and gives a degree of protection and comfort. What's ideal is a blend of experience and breaking in your own local staff. "The Sydney 2000 Olympics created a legacy for Australian event specialists that have exported their services successfully to subsequent sporting events (e. g. Cleanevent and Concept Sports at Athens 2004). "Why do Australians punch above their weight when it comes to sport both personally and professionally? " offered John Barton, head of sport at the Asia Broadcasting Union. "Well, the country is already benefiting from the legacy created by having an Olympic–sized swimming pool in every city, a tennis centre in every town, not to mention golf courses and football ovals. While it is too cold in Tasmania, the rest of Australia is outdoors most of the time being active. "Regarding the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, said Dr Chris Bruton, chief executive of Hospitality in Partnership and CEO of Cricket Hospitality 2007: "70% of our staff were from the Caribbean so we trained them up and helped create a local legacy. Now they have successfully carried out this major event it will be easier for them to do another one. It was also part of our plan to use as many local suppliers as possible. "PR benefitsHosting an event provides a city, or country, with the chance to highlight itself on the world stage, but not just in a sporting sense, and also allows a country or city to present a new image to the rest of the world. Munich's 1972 Olympics was all about shaking off Nazi associations. Korea wanted to get rid of its image as a developing nation by hosting the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. Nigeria's hosting of the 2003 All Africa Games was aimed at showing the world is was more than a developing country. And Beijing wanted to host the 2008 Olympics to cement China's position of becoming a global economic powerhouse. Economic benefitsHosting sports events creates jobs and provides benefits ranging from regional development to increased exports, tourism and improved infrastructure. Bidding committees can benefit from having commercially strong sponsors that increase the credibility of their project. Valuable benefits can be offered to the sponsors even at this early stage. These benefits include visibility during the bidding campaign and being able to use the " forward–thinking" image that is linked with the bid. Social benefitsHosting sporting events also offers an opportunity for unique work experiences, as well as a forum to celebrate athletic, artistic and cultural excellence. It provides the residents of a city or country with the opportunity to contribute to the expression of their national identity. Political leaders now understand how sport can not only have an impact on the image of their nation or city, but also on the morale of their citizens. Indeed, hosting international events offers local and national governments the potential to bring direct and significant benefits across a broad range of their priority areas and can act as a catalyst for the achievement of their other objectives. The Special Olympics in 2003 and 2007 led to changes in legislation in their host countries relating to special needs and disabled people. Measuring legacy successAccording to Mike Lee, CEO of Vero, the campaign communications consultancy: "The real success of an event can only be judged six to 10 years after it has occurred. What's the nature of the legacy? Has it worked both for hard legacy and soft legacy? These are important questions. Sustainable legacy is going to become increasingly important. Four years after Sydney 2000, everyone was saying that the legacy was a failure, but four years on again, it was being called a success. The industry needs to have a long term view of legacy and not judge the likes of Athens for example until years after the event. "Measurement of legacy is getting better according to Mann. "But the problem with measuring legacy impact is that there are a lot of intangibles such as empowering communities and raising their self–esteem that can't easily be quantified. "Mann felt that the most important outcome of legacy should be reaching disenfranchised communities where sport is not part of their lifestyle. "For example, with a world championship in swimming. How many people will actually start swimming after an event is over, or at least volunteer to be involved when it is in town? If you can get to those people who ordinarily would be untouched by sport, then you are delivering something worthwhile. If you don't, then you are failing. Governing bodies need to start raising the bar and focus on reaching new fans and participants. Marketing therefore has to be part of legacy planning. "He summed up: "One of the acid tests of successful legacy is whether the urban transformation, healthier nation, new skills and jobs etc would have happened anyway or can it directly be related to the sports event? "Legacy for venuesSuccessful venues are ones that can pay their way after the circus has left town say the experts. "Structures should be the easy bit when it comes to legacy planning, " said Mann. "Start where you need to finish and consider the use of the facilities for at least the next 30 years. The event has to just be the icing on the cake, not the be all and end all for a venue. ""It always sticks in my mind when you see an old traditional and once glorious venue steeped in history knocked down to effectively just make more money, " added Wigley. "But I can equally understand when a 60–year old venue can no longer perform and has dreadful facilities. It's about finding the right balance and building a venue that works as best as possible for all the parties involved in an event. " Joe O'Neill, managing director of temporary seating company Arena Seating believed that London 2012 will be the torch bearer for temporary seating and structures. "There is definitely a greater recognition in the industry now of the huge financial capital cost involved in staging these events and the need for stringent legacy. Temporary seating and structures are the way forward and help to avoid white elephants. "

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