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Urban Regeneration and Sports Stadiums

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The use of sports stadia

Urban regeneration of economically, socially, and culturally deprived areas has been a recognised priority in the UK for over twenty years. Current literature reveals that the most successful regeneration schemes incorporate both significant capital investment, usually anchored around some flagship development such as a sports facility, and social programmes to address the vocational, educational, and personal needs of individual residents of the deprived areas targeted for regeneration.

Such regeneration efforts have been found to be most effective when undertaken in partnership with local entities and local residents themselves. This study seeks to consider the factors contributing to one such project in North West England. Specifically, the used of a sports development, Sport City in East Manchester, facility created for the 2002 Commonwealth Games, which was used to facilitate a number of related initiatives resulting in dramatic economic revitalisation of the East Manchester area.

1. Introduction

Various methods of addressing urban decay have been employed in the last forty years, since the problem of substandard living and working conditions in specific neighbourhoods, typically in the inner cities, was identified as a national problem. To consider how urban regeneration policy and practice is employed in the UK, it is first necessary to define urban regeneration and consider its historical underpinnings. This includes various initiatives and theoretical viewpoints from which such redevelopment has been undertaken. Specifically, this research will consider urban regeneration in general, followed by focused consideration of economic factors and social exclusion, and how the use of investment in sport stadia and related facilities can enhance or provide the foundation for urban regeneration projects.

One specific project, the creation of Sport City in East Manchester, England, is considered in detail. This project is actually the culmination of several urban regeneration projects over a ten-year period, aimed at first enhancing Manchester’s bid to host the Olympic Games on two occasions and later in its eventual hosting of the seventeenth Commonwealth Games in 2002, the UK’s largest sporting event to date (Jones and Stokes 2003). This project is significant as it involved a number of projects and programmes aimed not simply at economic stimulus to a depressed area through funding of a public work, but also at serving the employment and other needs of the indigenous impoverished neighbourhoods in the East Manchester area and surrounds.

The success of the Sport City project can be evaluated in a number of ways; two undertaken in this research include effects on those local residents directly participating in related urban regeneration programmes and analysis of the economic impact on the community as measured through various economic and social indicators. This research includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the project, with implications then drawn for use of sports stadia and capital projects as flagship developments in urban regeneration.

2. Literature Review

Numerous studies have been undertaken to determine the causes, evaluate the projects designed to address, and propose additional means for combating urban decay. Urban regeneration is a complex task, primarily because deterioration of a particular local area is caused by complex set of issues and circumstances.

This literature review seeks to consider various research and studies considering urban regeneration in a broader sense, with examination of the various contributing factors, causes, and methods of urban regeneration. How regeneration initiatives can most effectively address contributing factors, typically through partnership programmes, economic considerations at local, regional and national levels, and social exclusion’s significant role in the ultimate long-term success and sustainability of any regeneration programme are reviewed. The specific use of sports stadia in urban regeneration is then considered, with an overview of sports facility projects in a number of locations and a summary of lessons learned from such initiatives.

2a. Complex Causes

Historically, cities have had certain ‘slum’ neighbourhoods, which house the unemployed, the addicted, and the lowest rung of workers within the municipal area (Gordon et al 2000). “Poor housing conditions and high unemployment have come together in such ‘slum’ housing in inner-city areas” in both privately-based and publicly-based economies(McGregor and McConnachie 1995, 1587). “Economies with large amounts of social housing have shown the same association of housing and unemployment problems in specific areas, most recently large estates on the peripheries of towns and cities” (McGregor and McConnachie 1995,1587). Whilst there are various specific circumstances and problems contributing to the poverty of each generation, certain issues, such as substandard housing, poorer health conditions, and lack of necessary resources have always been prevalent in the ‘slum’ neighbourhoods(Gordon et al 2000).

Distressed areas have economic issues tied to national macro economic issues. The overall economy of the country and economic policies substantially influence the success or failure of initiatives, and even what type of initiatives will be most effective at a given time(Griffiths 1993). Leman (1991, 144) holds that “the problems of poverty are only in limited instances localised in character; they are for the most part widely distributed, related to economic and social factors that operate nationwide, and require more than local action for solution.” This means that not only must macro-economic trends and national economic concerns taken into consideration, but also “local initiatives must be supported by the right kind of policies at regional and national level” (Klein man 2000, 51).

Regeneration initiatives must be further planned and implemented with the needs of the local areas to be regenerated and their residents in mind. “The targets and outcomes of programmes should be matched to the needs of the area concerned and focused on a coherent vision of holistic regeneration” (Hemphill, Berry and McCrea 2004, 725). Klein man (2000) argues that “projects work best when they are based on genuine partnerships, on the commitment at all levels of the private and public sector partners, and on a clear understanding of the local government” (51). “Using public money to build a lot of new things in one place doesn’t guarantee private capital, new businesses, jobs, or even good environments” (Catalano 2004, 24).

The issues that prevent the residents of deprived neighbourhoods have complex problems that must be addressed for them to be integrated into the economic and social fabric of the greater community. This is often referred to asocial exclusion, a condition where barriers prevent residents of distressed areas or disadvantaged people groups from full participation in the economy and in society.

McGregor and McConnachie (1995) describe how a combination of related factors result in economically depressed conditions within a local area. First, impoverished areas lose jobs and business investment, subsequently becoming marked over time by substandard housing, inferior public services, such as education and child care, and a lack of adequate transportation. Lack of educational qualifications and vocational skills amongst residents and poor transportation in turn lead to increased barriers to the labour market and other needed services, such as banking and health care (McGregor and McConnachie1995).

As a neighbourhood spirals into economic downturn, decaying conditions attract socially disadvantaged groups through low rents, increasing apathy and crime. This leads to stigmatisation of certain areas and those who reside in them by employers and politicians, and the development of negative attitudes by residents towards education and employment (McGregor and McConnachie 1995). As a result, an impoverished neighbourhood includes a number of related problems that must be addressed, including housing, transportation, services, training, crime, and attitudes for true regeneration to occur.

2b. Urban Regeneration

Urban regeneration is necessarily as complex as the factors that cause urban decline. Initially, infusion of capital into blighted areas was seen as the simple and most effective way to address depressed areas. Early regeneration initiatives often involved significant infusion of public capital, such as in public works projects, which additionally required on-going public investment to continue (Gordon et al 2000).

In the 1960s and 70s, what is today called urban regeneration was labelled comprehensive redevelopment, and basically included devoting a large mass of public capital to improving a certain area, which in turn theoretically caused increased economic activity and private investment in the region (Catalano 2004). The problem with many such initiatives, however, was than they simply moved areas of impoverishment, with previous residents and what businesses existed in the area forced out by gentrification and increased rents (Catalano 2004). These individuals and small businesses were forced to relocate to another area, which in turn became blighted, as their specific needs remained unmet (Catalano 2004).

Edwards and Dakin (1992) report that current trends in urban regeneration originated with the 1977 government White Paper Policy forth Inner Cities, in which Peter Shore proposed policy shifts away from welfare-based programmes to economic regeneration in partnership with the private sector, specifically emphasising work and private investment.
The first major national government initiative in urban regeneration, the Urban Programme, which began in 1969 and continued in some fashion through 1992, was modified after the publication of Policy for Inner Cities to include greater emphasis on private partnerships and investment (Jones and Stokes 2003, Edwards and Dakin 1992). The programme targeted deprived or impoverished areas of inner cities in the UK, and resulted in investment first by the public and more recently by the private sector in over fifty identified communities(Jones and Stokes 2003).

In the late 1980s, the New Right continued this trend of increased reliance on and leverage of the private sector. They further linked urban regeneration with what they called transforming values, combination of economic benefits, intended to extend the benefits enjoyed by more prosperous areas to the inner cities, and‘remoralization,’ a term used to indicate cultural and societal values many felt were lacking in deprived areas, such as work ethic, respect for law, and responsibility for children (Edwards and Dakin 1992). This framework was founded on an underlying assumption that cultural and value issues in deprived areas caused residents to contribute to their own distress, and further drew policy away from welfare-based focus.

“The idea of private sector-led regeneration of the inner cities rests upon a particular set of assumptions about why they collapsed in the first place and why, in consequence they become not only economic deserts but sloughs of social, cultural and moral despond” (Edwards and Dakin 1992, 363). Deprived areas were seen as in need of infusion of both outside funds and outside values, with the notion that a ‘trickle-down’ effect would occur from those brought into the deprived area to those already residing there. In reality, such programmes, while increasing the economic viability and quality of life in many inner city neighbourhoods, typically did so by displacing the previous impoverished residents and gentrifying the area, rather than addressing the deeper underlying issues that caused the economic and social problems in the first place (Edwards and Dakin 1992).

This neighbourhood gentrification simply shifted problems rather than addressing them, and has been subsequently rejected as an ineffective means for addressing urban poverty.

After several decades of shifting, somewhat scattershot policies to address urban deterioration, the national government began to promote a more holistic, unified and focused approach to urban regeneration. For example, the government introduced the Single Regeneration Budget in1994 in an attempt to consolidate its various funding programmes in a single and unified scheme (Jones and Stokes 2003). More recently, “integration of social and economic policies has become a hallmark of the ‘Third Way’ politics practised by the two successive New Labour Government since 1997” (Aitcheson and Evans 2003, 136).

The government has also increasingly employed a “’joined-up thinking’ approach turban regeneration, neighbourhood renewal, social inclusion, healthy living, and lifelong learning,” resulting in a series of policies and practices designed to create relationships between economic, cultural and social capital (Aitcheson and Evans 2003, 136). This recent framework views urban regeneration as requiring a number of initiatives and programmes beyond simple capital infusion, all carried out in concert to not only revitalise a given geographical area but to address the economic, social, and cultural needs of deprived residents of the impoverished area.

As Griffiths (1993) points out, current consideration of urban regeneration “is not just a matter or renewing the physical fabric of acuity and restoring its economic healthy, vital as these aspects clearly are” (3). Urban regeneration is also “a matter of psychology; creating sense of civic identity, establishing a feeling of belonging to a collective entity beyond the individual; raising expectations about what city life can offer” (Griffiths 1993, 3). Klein man (2000)similarly states “it is increasingly hard to draw the line between ‘economic’ and ‘social’ aspects of regeneration” (57). Bell and Jayne(2003) find urban regeneration “is social and cultural, as well as economic work, and its benefits are similarly social and cultural as well as economic” (123).

2c. Partnerships

A number of economic considerations must be taken into account in any urban regeneration scheme. One of the most emphasised in current literatures is the need for partnerships. For example, Jones and Stokes (2003) contend “the building of leisure facilities will not automatically lead to success; on the contrary, the injection of funds and the subsequent building projects only provide the foundations on which to build success” (203). They further argue that successful regeneration must be both holistic and sustainable, “which will only be achieved over a period of time and by a number of partnerships working together and, must crucially, with the support and involvement of the people within the community” (Jones and Stokes 2003, 203).

Government planners have recognised the benefits of partnering with local businesses and organisations, and national government with local governing bodies. However, local residents from areas targeted for regeneration still are often marginalised in both the planning and implementation of urban regeneration initiatives (Jones and Stokes2003). Couch, Eva and Lipscombe (2000) similarly find a continued problem with many urban regeneration schemes is that “authorities are still concentrating on giving information and on consultation rather than participation” from members of the indigenous community (263). For example, “urban regeneration initiatives often concentrate their resources on developing an elite flagship project at the expense of community-based projects or more popular cultural activities”(Aitcheson and Evans 2003, 137). This might include building a theatre or cultural venue that few locals would be interested in attending, or shops that are too expensive for them to frequent. Such development leaves residents feeling even more disconnected and unvalued, contributing to social exclusion and undermining participation in regenerative programmes (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe 2000)

More recently, some initiatives have focused on creating partnerships intended to lead to community identification with and participation in the project, which both encourages sustainability and allows related regeneration issues, such as employment, to be addressed. For example, the pre-volunteer programme that was part of the Manchester Sport city project offered participants the opportunity to obtain an educational qualification, the first most had ever achieved (Jones and Stokes2003).

Planners must therefore balance the economic and development desires of a community for a splashy flagship project with issues of sustainability and relevance. “The need for an identifiable relationship between a flagship project and the local community cannot be overstated” (Aitcheson and Evans 2003, 137). “The emphasis for most authorities appears towards improving physical conditions and encouraging economic development rather than improving the living conditions of the indigenous population” (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe2000, 262).

Subsequently, many urban regeneration projects suffer from lack of clear targets for area residents. This both leads to weaknesses in planning and in lessened involvement of the disadvantaged individuals such programmes are often intended to serve (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe2000).

In terms of funding, government usually begins the typical regeneration project with the intention of involving significantly higher proportions of private investment. For example, a flagship project might be expected to bring in tenfold or more in private development tithe immediate area (Aitcheson and Evans 2003). The resulting “flotilla of supporting cafes, shops and boutiques, restaurants, clubs, delicatessens, and other transitory events, such as festivals and sporting events related to these post-industrial city spaces, adds value to urban regeneration initiatives” and magnifies the regenerative effects of such development (Bell and Jayne 2003, 124).

However, whilst the importance of such leveraging or private funds in urban regeneration cannot be overstated, the private sector cannot be expected to bear the entire burden of regeneration. In addition to funding assistance, many private sector investors expect additional support from the government, often in the form of non-funding assistance such as free promotion, tax abatements, and relaxation of regulation within a development zone (Aitcheson and Evans 2003).

For example, the successful rebuilding of the Manchester City centre has been “cultivated by commercial sector bar and club owners supported bay relaxed licensing regime operated by the local authority, together with public and private investment from a national level designed to promote international arts and sports events (Aitcheson and Evans 2003,138).]

Finally, sustainability must be one of the most important considerations to any regeneration project (Terry 1996). Partnership sallow local entities to assume on-going oversight for extended there generation programmes that now accompany most major capital developments. McGregor and McConnachie (1995) report, for example, that often providing significant job preparedness training to a smaller group of more motivated individuals has a higher long-term benefit to disadvantaged community than providing lesser services to a broader population from the same area.

The success of the smaller group provides a foundation, both economic and social, for the neighbourhood, as well as role models for other less-motivated residents to later begin more effective job preparedness training. However, for such programmes to be effective, long-term commitment on the part of planners is required, which will most often only happen if local entities are involved (McGregor and McConnachie 1995).

Sustained regeneration must include an emphasis on quality, where job training, housing improvement, and other investments are not simply quick fixes, involvement of local residents and a willingness to address what they consider to be community needs, and a raising of individuals employability, in terms of skills, services such as child care, and personal attitudes and practices (McGregor and McConnachie 1995).

2d. Social Exclusion

One of the main considerations in current urban regeneration research is developing social capital, and combating social exclusion, which is seen as an on-going contributor to poverty and neighbourhood decay nation-wide. The Commission for Social Justice (1994) contends that “social capital consists of the institutions and relationships oaf thriving civil society – from networks of neighbours to extended families, community groups to religious organisations, local businesses to local public services, youth clubs to parent-teacher associations, playgroups to police on the beat” (307). They further conclude that “where you live, who else lives there, and how they live their lives –cooperatively or selfishly, responsibly or destructively – can be as important as personal resources in determining life chances (308).

Social capital includes the expected obligations and expectations of reciprocation common in social relationships, the ability to use such relationships as channels for information that can lead to a basis for action, and the establishment of norms and effective socially-based sanctions within the community as a whole (Hobbit, Jones and Meegan2001). Hobbit, Jones and Megan (2001) agree with the World Bank’s assessment that social integration, often called social capital, is the missing link in development and regeneration.

The development of social capital is often considered from a reverse perspective, where regeneration planners will address reduction of social exclusion amongst residents of an area. Most residents in atypical urban regeneration target area “come from groups with little sense of engagement with the wider society” (Jones and Stokes 2003,204). “Social exclusion can be distinguished both from poverty and from unemployment” as people are excluded “not because they are currently without a job or income but because they have little prospects for the future” (Klein man 2000, 55).

Jones and Stokes (2003) cite consultation paper from the Scottish Office (2001) which contends social exclusion occurs when individuals or neighbourhoods experience number of related problems such as crime, unemployment, low income, and family breakdown. McGregor and McConnachie (1995) similarly report that number of studies have concluded issues related to long-term unemployment often exceed the simple need for work, “because individuals suffer deleterious side-effects as a consequence – their health deteriorates; their skills decay; their aspirations decline and their self-confidence evaporates” (1588).

Gordon et al (2000) list four specific components of social exclusion: poverty or exclusion from adequate resources or income, exclusion from economic services (such as banking), exclusion from opportunities in the labour market, and exclusion from social relationships across society. They find that these four areas of exclusion lead poor education, skills, and health, in addition to contributing to family breakdown and apathy toward self-help and participation in greater society (Gordon et al 2000). As such, if these areas are not addressed, even if economic conditions improve in a given area the residents most in need of benefit from such improvement are often excluded.

For example, although capital investment and businesses boomed in London in the 1980s, the London Research Centre (1996)reports that employment opportunities and earnings worsened for those at the lower end of the wage scale, and adult residents of the area receiving income support doubled from the end of the decade through1995. Klein man (2000) concludes that whilst “it is inescapable that in competitive, open economy, those individuals that have the least competitive attributes will find it most difficult to gain access to jobs,” refusal or inability to address the needs of such groups results in not only a continuous underclass but a number of social ills that accompany groups excluded from opportunity and society (53).

Klein man (2000) contends that the approach of linking urban regeneration to a major capital investment such as the Millennium Domain London, or major cultural venues and sports stadia, is fundamentally wrong approach that simply shifts poverty and increases social exclusion. Whilst as Chalked and Essex (1999) conclude “hallmark events or mega-events have an ability to focus national and international attention on the host city; their contribution to the built environment and to plans for urban regeneration have a long history,” without proper advanced planning such initiatives can actually contribute to social exclusion (370).

A high number of unemployed individuals in the typical regeneration area “do not possess the characteristics, in terms of skills, education and attitudes, that employers are looking for” (Klein man 2000, 53). McGregor and McConnachie (1995) further cite extensive research from the U.S. that demonstrates many jobs created within low-income neighbourhoods will go to those residing in adjoining areas, with only a fraction benefiting local residents, who often lack the skills and attitudes to secure available jobs. “Low self-esteem is one of the major consequences of economic and social exclusion – and is one of the greatest barriers to economic reintegration” (McGregor and McConnachie 1995, 1590).

Training programmes and other schemes that accompany development must therefore be set up well in advance of capital investment in neighbourhood so that residents are ready to compete for jobs when they become available. Otherwise, those within the disadvantaged community will not benefit vocationally from employment opportunities created by such investment (McGregor and McConnachie 1995).

2d. The Use of Sports Stadia

As noted above, a flagship development of some sort is often used to anchor an urban regeneration initiative. These typically follow one of two models. In one case, a cultural facility such as a museum or theatre will be used as the flagship development. Alternatively, sports- and leisure-related capital investment may be undertaken. Moreland more, sports stadia and facilities are becoming the flagship project of choice.

First, sports stadia and highly popular with the business community, who often views sports teams as possible marketing and promotional partners. “Increasingly, the business community see sports and top-class sports in particular, as an opportunity to realise their objectives by sponsoring events, clubs and sports people, and-financing new sports accommodation” (Van Den Berg, Braun and Otgaar2002, 9).

Professional sports, as a leisure industry, attract further leisure industries, such as pubs, clubs, and recreational facilities. “The role of sport in urban economies is one which has begun to be recognised, particularly in the context of deindustrialisation and the growing importance of the service sector in such circumstances” (Henry and Gratton 2001, 5). This is particularly valuable in areas where traditional manufacturing or other production-related industries have declined, and can provide a bridge into the more service-based industries currently making up the major growth sectors of the economy(Van Den Berg, Braun and Ongar 2002).

Such developments are viewed most favourably when long-term tenants, such as professional teams, can be secured in addition to building simply for a mega-event. First, this increases public support for such regeneration schemes. Manchester built a new stadium to host the Commonwealth Games with the further intent of providing a home for the Manchester City Football Club. Whilst “Manchester United contributes significantly to the image of the city as a lively and successful place,” historically there has been less public support for building stadia for private clubs than for major, albeit one-time, sporting events (Thorley 2002, 814). “In East Manchester the new stadium is seen as a pump primer for a wider regeneration effort involving a whole range of other regeneration initiatives” (Thorley 2002, 816). The Sport City complex has since attracted large and small business ventures, additional public and leisure-related development, and various tourism and housing investments (Thorley 2002).

Such planning additionally increases the marketing possibilities for cities undertaking such sports stadia projects. “Sports stadia, of course, are only part of a process whereby new infrastructure is linked to wider strategies to enhance the image of particular towns and cities(Burner 2003, 1521)

However, sports investments and the relocation of professional sports teams to a given city are often viewed at the local government level as a means if increased marketing, much in the same way a business views marketing opportunities connected with sponsorship of a well-known team. Cities in recent years have therefore begun to market themselves through mega-events, often sports-related (Thorley 2002).

In addition to raising the city’s profile both locally and often internationally, such events promote tourism and create both new infrastructure and jobs(Thorley 2002). Van Den Berg, Braun and Ongar (2002) contend that sports teams and their respective stadia make excellent, highly visible anchors for city marketing in general and flagship or regeneration developments in particular.

They not only provide continued leisure and recreational activity, one of Hemphill, Berry and McCrea’s (2004) important economic indicators in regeneration success, but also improve the perception of a city with the wider national and international public (Bell and Jayne 2003). This in turn leads to increased tourism, greater opportunity to attract new businesses, and increased private investment in an area (Van Den Berg, Braun and Ongar 2002).
However, it is important to note that “exploring the relationship between stadia and regeneration raises a whole range of issues operating at a variety of scales, from the local neighbourhood level through the city as a whole, to, sometimes, the arena of national government” (Thorley 2002, 813).

International event planning can only significantly contribute to long-term regeneration efforts when sustainabilty, partnerships, and greater social issues are addressed in the urban regeneration scheme. “Infrastructural improvements are carried out in conjunction with other place promotion and marketing strategies in order to stimulate local economic development through the attraction of post-industrial professional, managerial and service businesses” (Bell and Jayne 2003, 124). The accompanying programmes that go with such capital investment allow local residents to become participants in the economic improvements in their communities.

In addition to the East Manchester Sport City development, mentioned previously and discussed in significant detail later in this study, number of other cities have shown the benefit of using sports stadia and facilities as the anchors of their urban regeneration schemes. Three of the most notable are the schemes in Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney in conjunction with their respective Olympic Games.

In the first two of these events, public and private monies were combined with previous revitalisation projects and significant revenues from international media coverage to offset costs of capital investment. Unfortunately, both also illustrate failed opportunities to address wider social issues as neither city included substantial programmes of urban regeneration to social capital with their sports development initiatives.

Barcelona had undertaken a public open-space initiative in the 1980s,increasing its number of leisure facilities, although a number of portions of the project had been delayed due to funding concerns(Chalked and Essex 1999). The introduction of the Games gave Barcelona a push to complete these projects. In addition, fifteen new venues were constructed and ten existing structures refurbished(Chalked and Essex 1999). The Olympic Village was constructed on an area of abandoned manufacturing plants and an extremely depressed residential neighbourhood. Transportation, sewage service, and other public utilities were upgraded throughout parts of the city hosting the Games (Chalked and Essex 1999).

From an economic standpoint, this created significant revitalisation to many areas of Barcelona. However, regeneration planners did not link large number of social programmes to the capital investments, which initially led to gentrification and displacement of pockets of urban poor (Chalked and Essex 1999). It was some time following the Games that significant programmes to address poverty and social exclusion issues were introduced (Chalked and Essex 1999).

In contrast, preparations for the Atlanta Games were undertaken under the administration of a private, non-profit organising entity (Chalkleyand Essex 1999). This organisation was only concerned with the creation of sporting facilities, and almost no accompanying social programmes were included in the plan (Chalked and Essex 1999).

Local government was side-lined from involvement, and a second non-profit organisation responsible for non-sporting development lacked funding, had management difficulties, and was widely opposed by the local community (Chalked and Essex 1999, High man 2005). This left the city “without a co-ordinated strategy” and “the window of opportunity for major investment and redevelopment narrow and short-lived” (Chalkleyand Essex 1999, 388).

Sydney, however, made particular emphasis on sustainable development and increase in social capital throughout its Games planning and implementation (Chalked and Essex 1999). The major investments and building projects were located on a former household and industrial dump site that had been previously targeted by local officials for environmental improvement. As such, this clean up and development of this area was widely supported by the local community (Chalked and Essex 1999).

The project was further designed to allow for multiple uses in the future, both in hosting other mega-sporting events and in providing leisure and professional sporting venues (Chalked and Essex1999). Socially, a number of jobs initiatives were tied into the Games, allowing Sydney to improve the social capital of its residents, although the most successful programmes served youth rather than indigenous poor (Chalked and Essex 1999).

On a smaller scale, Belfast has had broader success with sporting-based transformation. The city developed Odyssey Arena in depressed area, bringing to the city the Belfast Giants ice hockey franchise to use the Arena as its home (Burner 2003). The Arena served as the project’s flagship development, opening in 2000 with an accompanying entertainment complex including cinemas, restaurants, and exhibition space in the same locale (Burner 2003).

Whilst the city had previously had hockey clubs, no major professional team called the area home. Belfast touts that a large number of permanent jobs were produced for a neighbouring working-class residential area through the development, although critics argue that most of these jobs are low-paying and unskilled (Burner 2003). Significant gentrification of the immediately surrounding area has also been an issue with local residents and politicians (Burner 2003).

In summary, sports stadia can be effective and highly valuable flagship anchors for urban regeneration, but only building stadia and sporting facilities does little to truly regenerate an area suffering from urban blight. Larger issues such as social exclusion must be deliberately addressed, less the regeneration project benefits a geographical area but not the people who comprise it, and serves only to shift poverty and similar issues to another area of the city.

3. Methodology

This study employs both quantitative and qualitative analysis of the Sport City urban regeneration project in East Manchester, England. This project purposefully combined a number of social capital investment schemes with its capital investments in East Manchester in preparation for the seventeenth Commonwealth Games of 2002.

There are number of reasons the development of Sport City in Manchester was chosen as the primary case study for this research. First, it is fairly recent development. As several researchers have noted in the literature review section of this study, nation-wide and global economic conditions have a strong influence on the success of regional and local urban regeneration projects.

A stadia built in the 1980s,for example, was undertaken with very different economic conditions than those in our current society. Manufacturing at that time had only recently declined, the UK was not as economically involved in European the European Union did not yet exist. The impacts of technology and globalisation, both so important to present economic trends, were not really factors, and the British government operated from different ideological foundation. The list could be continued, but demonstrates why it was favourable to choose a fairly recent sport stadia initiative.

The Manchester project also, however, has enough history behind it at this writing to effectively consider its longer-term impact on urban regeneration. As Terry (1996) points out, sustainability must be one of the most important considerations to any regeneration project. Effective regeneration projects not only meet the immediate needs of the anticipated event and infuse the area with short-term capital, but lead to visible improvement that continues to generate growth and jobs. As the project was completed prior to 2002, there are several years of economic data available to evaluate important economic impacts, such as the number of jobs generated and private investment in the area.

Hemphill, Berry and McCrea (2004) identify several groups of economic indicators that should be tracked and evaluated to quantitatively measure the long-term success of urban regeneration. The economy and work group of indicators “reflects the economic and industrial characteristics of urban regeneration process” (Hemphill, Berry and McCrea 2004, 733). The group includes net jobs created, quality of jobs created, and number of new enterprises.

The buildings and land use group of indicators includes occupancy levels, mix of uses, new development, and commercial / residential viability. The community benefits group of indicators includes access to open space and leisure facilities, public amenities, and measures of community services such as education and crime (Hemphill, Berry and McCrea 2004). Of these indicators, the following are specifically addressed in this research: net jobs created, job quality, new enterprises, and private development investment. Evaluation was limited to these factors as solid statistical information is not available for all areas identified by Hemphill, Berry and McCrea. For example, effects on education of project completed three years ago are not yet determinable.

Qualitative analysis is then also employed to incorporate the perceptions of residents of the Sport City area, and to supplement the qualitative economic analysis indicated above. As such, it is believed that a holistic evaluation of the impact of the Sport City urban regeneration initiative in Manchester can be documented credibly and accurately, with support for recommendations for future urban regeneration derived from such evaluation.

4. Case Study - Sport City In East Manchester

Manchester through the 1970s was a prosperous manufacturing centre of various industries, including steel and gas works, clothing manufacturers, and coal mines (High man 2005). The population averaged around 60,000 and the area supported over 34,000 jobs (Jones and Stokes2003, High man 2005). Most manufacturing venues began rapid decline in the late 1970s and early 1980s, however, as demand for coal decreased and steel and clothing moved increasingly overseas (Tams 2002). By1995 the area population had dropped to half of its previous peak, and job numbers had declined to less than 12,000, leaving the area dominated by vandals, unemployment, and poverty (Jones and Stokes 2003,Highman 2005).

Many residential and housing units in the region went vacant and supporting small businesses, such as local shops, closed. Business and other capital investment almost completely left the area, with the East Manchester area particularly hard-hit. Rogers (2001)reported the area in the early 1990s was “all but deserted” (27).

Northwest England, the region in which Manchester is located, generally suffered from similar economic difficulties during the period. The national government tried to address these issues since the 1980s, with variable success. For example, the region has more declared renewal areas under the government’s statutory renewal areas (part seven of the Local Government and Housing Act of 1989) than any other area in England (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe 2000).

These renewal areas are communities of depressed housing, where the condition of typical private housing is severely substandard and unemployment is high(Couch, Eva and Lipscombe 2000). Renewal areas receive various government support and funding to “tackle social, economic and environmental problems at the neighbourhood level,” with action taken primarily through partnerships between government and private-sector entities (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe 2000, 257). It is of note that the Renewal Area programme actively encourages participation from those who actually reside in the targeted housing, a change from many previous schemes that were less effective due to their top-down approach (Couch, Eva and Lipscombe 2000).

Local government entities have also made efforts in turning the economic tides of the region. In Manchester, the Manchester City Council embarked upon an urban regeneration campaign in the hopes of infusing capital and development into the East Manchester area(Manchester City Council 2001). To that end, the City Council began pursuit of a major sporting event as the centrepiece for its regeneration investment, bidding twice unsuccessfully for the Olympics. It was anticipated that the building of various sports stadia and facilities in pursuit of such a mega-event would form the flagship development for the entire East Manchester area, attracting leveraged private investment and increasing the economic prospects of area residents.

The City Council had started pursuit of this plan over a decade before it was rewarded with a major sporting event. Manchester bid to host both the 1996 and 2000 Olympics, receiving government support in its second bid and building some initial sports facilities to indicate the city’s commitment and ability to support such a large-scale event(Manchester City Council 2001). Specifically, in its second bid forth Olympics, this time trying to secure the 2000 Games, the city received over pounds fifty-five million from the national government in the early 1990s (Griffiths 1993).

These funds were used to build part of the Olympic-standard sports accommodations in East Manchester that later led to the city’s winning bid for the Commonwealth Games in 2002(Griffiths 1993). Funds also were used to support the creation of an eastern limb of the city’s Metro link for East Manchester, bringing much needed improvements to public transportation in the area (Griffiths1993). These investments were seen by many, however, as only a drop in the bucket given the extreme economic and social needs of the area. Through the late 1990s the area remained depressed, and local residents vocally reported the sports facilities added to the area were “not for them” and did not benefit them in any way (Jones and Stokes 2003, 205)

Upon securing the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the Manchester City Council partnered with Sport England and an event-specific organisation called Manchester 2002 to develop its training and volunteer initiatives(Manchester City Council 2001). Basing plans on successful regeneration programmes in Barcelona and Sydney centred around the Olympics in both those cities, the Manchester project included the expected capital and business investments, but additionally provided social and training programmes to include local disadvantaged residents through a pre-volunteer programme, the ‘Wired Up Community’ initiative, and a Single Regeneration Budget programme aimed at three local neighbourhoods (Jones and Stokes 2003).

Although there were many qualified individuals interested in volunteering at the Commonwealth Games, the three partnering organisations created a pre-volunteer programme designed to recruit and train 1500 individuals from deprived communities in North West England to serve at the games (Jones and Stokes 2003). The organisers hoped to use this pre-volunteer programme to both impart personal and job skills to these individuals so as to make them more job ready and provide vocational experience (Jones and Stokes 2003).

Klein man (2005) points out that most unemployed individuals “do not possess the characteristics, in terms of skills, education and attitudes, that employers are looking for” (53). As such, the pre-volunteer programme did more than provide job training or experience; it also emphasised a number of personal and attitudinal components identified as important in employability. Of note, the Sport City development was located in a deprived area of East Manchester, meaning that the event itself took place in the area of residence of many of the pre-volunteer programme participants (Jon sand Stokes 2003).

That the project would seek to target improvement in employability of over a thousand of the most hard-core unemployed in the region is in itself a commendable endeavour. That it far exceeded its original scope is even more admirable. These residents of North West England were often multiple-generation poor (Jones and Stokes 2003). Such disadvantaged persons are often the most socially excluded in society. As their parents themselves have lower education, vocational opportunities, and health and similar services, people from this environment often grow up in highly apathetic cultural situations, where few with whom they regularly interact maintain anything beyond base-level coping skills and many are dependent on subsidies for basic sustenance (Gordon et al 2000).

Most programme participants had left school without completion, and had never received an educational qualification of any kind prior to their participation in there-volunteer programme (Jones and Stokes 2003). Over eighty per cent of programme graduates cited this accomplishment as the most important to them personally from their experience (Jones and Stokes 2003). In interviews with programme graduates, Jones and Stokes (2003) noted increased self-esteem and willingness to engage in further learning experiences amongst successful participants.

By the cut-off date for volunteers to be trained for the Commonwealth Games, over 250 disadvantaged individuals had taken part in there-volunteer programme from East Manchester, with 165 graduating. Over 3000 disadvantaged individuals had participated across North West England altogether, with just over 2000 graduating. This far exceeded the 1500 participants originally aimed for at the programme’s initiation. Graduates successfully completed thirty hours of training in event volunteering, first aid, and customer care (Jones and Stokes2003).

A number of participants were also trained in time to serve at the 2001 National Squash Championships in Manchester (Jones and Stokes2003). In interviews with participants, Jones and Stokes (2003) note that most reported “renewed feeling of worth,” particularly in regard to obtaining an educational qualification, and increased employment prospects (206). Unfortunately, a number of graduates were ultimately not able to volunteer at the Commonwealth Games due to prior criminal records, an oversight in planning on the part of programme organisers(Jones and Stokes 2003).

In addition to the pre-volunteer scheme, the Commonwealth Games regeneration project also included a component called ‘Wired Up communities,’ which provided low-cost electronic communication technology and free training to familiarise residents of the deprived neighbourhoods of East Manchester with the internet (Jones and Stokes2003). The scheme was underwritten by a local credit union, and allowed residents to purchase equipment to go online for as little as abound per week.

Participants were instructed in use of the Internet for both employment and social intercourse functions. The Wired Up Community programme was also undertaken in conjunction with six other regeneration projects nationally (Jones and Stokes 2003). The homepage for the Wired Up Community programme was also used Inco-ordination of the pre-volunteer programme and to provide job opportunity announcements (Jones and Stokes 2003). The Wired Up Community provided technology and training for over 3500 families, in some neighbourhoods nearly half of the resident population, and brought increased educational opportunities to all local schools (Jones and Stokes 2003). Its impact has yet to be fully or quantitatively measured, but will undoubtedly provide positive impact on these families, the local schools, and in turn the community in the immediate and foreseeable future.

A third scheme was also implemented. East Manchester received an award of Single Regeneration Budget funds from the government of pounds twenty-five million, to be used beginning in September 1999 for seven-year period for job creation initiatives (Jones and Stokes2003). These funds were administered through the Beacons or a Brighter Future partnership, which included representatives from the Manchester Police, the Manchester City Council, the education action zone, number of local businesses and volunteer organisations, and residents from the targeted neighbourhoods (Jones and Stokes 2003). Initiatives include programmes to increase employability through improving health and education, and bringing new businesses and their accompanying jobs to the area through reduction in crime (Jones and Stokes 2003). Single Regeneration Budget funds were also used in part to fund there-volunteer programme associated with the 2002 Commonwealth Games(Jones and Stokes 2003).

5. Results and Discussion

When the city first undertook a sports venue, the only result of Manchester’s efforts was a new stadium and group of related sports facilities with little or no use for its surrounding community, with short-term creation of construction and event-related jobs (Highman2005). The Velodome, built to support the city’s Olympic bids, was widely seen by residents as “not for them” and under-utilised (Jon sand Stokes 2003, 205). However, the deprived area around Sport City began to rebound with the more focused developments for the 2002Commonwealth Games, and a number of businesses have begun to move into the area.

In addition, several housing developments have been undertaken (High man 2005). “The iconic stadium became the symbol of the “new” East Manchester, so it made an important contributing to repositioning” as well as drawing the Manchester City FC to the site(High man 2005, 27). Recent negotiations have focused on additionally adding a casino, arena and ice-rink to the development (Manchester City Council 2004).

Economic indicators reinforce the project’s success. In terms of jobs created, an independent economic report included in BBC coverage of improvements in East Manchester cites 6300 new jobs created directly attributable to the Sport City development and regeneration project(BBC 2003). Given a previous job number of 12,000, this records dramatic increase of over fifty per cent in available, long-term jobs in Manchester. Of equal importance, the vast majority of these jobs are private sector supported.

For example, when a combined Ads/Wal-Mart mega-store was drawn to the area near the close of there-volunteer programme, organisers negotiated with the retailers regarding job opportunities for programme participants (Jones and Stokes 2003). This resulted in a number of pre-volunteer graduates being considered for positions although their qualifications such as experience and work history would have been insufficient apart from their volunteer portfolios (Jones and Stokes 2003). Over twenty individuals were eventually included in initial hiring (Jones and Stokes 2003).
In terms of quality, over half of these jobs are considered skilled, providing above entry-level wages (Manchester City Council 2004). The Manchester City Council (2004) reports another 1100 full-time jobs and400 part-time jobs will be created by the addition of the casino /ice-rink development and its surrounding stimulus to private business investment (Manchester City Council 2004). Of these, at least half are again expected to be above entry-level in terms of skills and wages(Manchester City Council 2004).

Through 2004, over 300 new enterprises had begun as a direct result of the Sport City development (Manchester City Council 2004). Examples include retailers such as the Ads / Wal-Mart previously mentioned, Central Park, a business and financial development and a number of small leisure-based businesses that have entered the area (Highman2005). Central Park has been a tough sell, as the area was not seen as a business and financial centre. Initial private investment centred much more on clubs and other leisure-related ventures (High man 2005).

However, the Central Park project was greatly enhanced a major tenant, Fujitsu, agreeing to come on board and supporting both a significant portion of its available space and a number of business-related service companies that were subsequently attracted to the area. This increases the use-mix of the regeneration area and greatly increases its likelihood of continued sustainability (High man 2005).

Indeed, private development is one area substantially increased through the Sport City project. The BBC reported on development success in an interview with Councillor Richard Lease, the leader of the Manchester City Council. Over pounds 600 million has been invested in the area in preparation for and as a result of the games, with the council providing pounds 72 million, Sport England pounds 160 million, and the government pounds 37 million (BBC 2003). Over pounds 330 million has come from private investment. Additional prospective private investment, as of 2003, was projected at nearly pounds 600 million over the next five years (BBC 2003). The overall rate of return by the end of 2003 was nearly triple the investment (BBC 2003).

Inclusion of local residents in the planning and implementation of the various urban regeneration initiatives associated with Sport City, in addition to the economic stimulus to the area, have led to an increased support from the community. Crime has decreased substantially in the area, and local residents satisfied with their neighbourhood have increased from less than thirty per cent to nearly sixty per cent (BBC2003).

From a qualitative analysis standpoint, High man (2005) reports the Manchester community had been trying to invigorate its deteriorated East Side for more than twenty years with little success. He further reports, however, that the success of the Sport City project can be directly measured in changing attitudes and opinions about the city. “Half the battle with major urban regeneration projects is to change the attitude of developers, businesses and residents” (High man 2005,27). He describes this as an exercise in rebranding, and “few things do more to rebrand an area than a big international event and a few showy buildings” (27).

The city therefore recognised the fundamental importance of making the 2002 Commonwealth Games more than just alone-time mega-event, or of resting on capital and business development as the key to urban regeneration. Investment in supporting programmes was therefore integral to the project’s overall success.
Success achieved by the pre-volunteer, Wired Up Community and Beacons for a Brighter Future participants provide much needed role models from within the indigenous East Manchester community (Jones and Stokes2003). It reduces the social exclusion of these individuals, which in turn encourages increased participation of the entire community in both vocational pursuits and society as a whole (Jones and Stokes 2003).

Jones and Stokes (2003) research into participants and organisers feelings and opinions of their experiences and the overall success of the programmes and urban regeneration initiative as a whole further reinforce the success of the venture. Its on-going development through additional investments such as the proposed casino, and continued private interest in the area also hallmark the sustainability built into the planning of the project and now bearing fruit for the East Manchester area.

It is of final note that regeneration of East Manchester in the early2000s occurred at a time when the national economy was not strong. Unlike the late 1990s, which signalled general economic growth on national level, the beginning of the twenty-first century was marked with economic corrections to technological expansion and controversy through the business and government sectors regarding the UK’s participation in the Euro and European Union.

Yet during the first five years of the century, Manchester as a whole reported regular growth in excess of three per cent per annum city-wide, and growth in the double-digits in the East Manchester sector specifically (Highman2005). This is a strong indicator that regeneration efforts can be directly attributable as the on-going stimulus to the area.

Conclusions and Recommendations

This study documents the effective use of sports stadia in urban regeneration. Whilst there is often a less than holistic approach touch development, the overall paradigm for such revitalisation is strongly supported. In comparing the East Manchester experience to other initiatives, however, such as the Barcelona Olympic Games, number of important recommendations surface and deserve discussion.

First, the sports stadia should have long-term use and importance in the community. Securing a professional sports team to call the facility home, for example, in addition to the hope of attracting future mega-sporting events is likely to improve the chances of project success, on-going private investment in the area, and changes in image for a targeted area. This may require the construction of multi-use facilities, or a group of related facilities within the urban regeneration zone rather than a stadium too focused on the needs of a single mega-event. Flexibility and increased mix-use development is simply more sustainable and effective in long-term economic growth.

A second conclusion and recommendation for future projects is that the importance of partnerships amongst a number of affected entities and residents local to the targeted regeneration is the most effective framework for urban regeneration. This includes national, regional, and local government representations, prospective and current businesses, non-profit organisations interested in offering social another community services, and representatives from the local community. All these should be involved in both the planning and implementation of any urban regeneration project. In addition, these partnerships and planning must take place some time prior to the start of the capital project.

Of extreme importance is the inclusion of social programmes accompanying urban regeneration, which must further address the long-term needs of the actual residents of the targeted area, not simply displace them or provide short-term, unsustainable quick fixes. This means addressing the deep-seated roots of poverty, often a complex combination of lack of job skills, educational depravity, personal and attitude issues such as lack of work ethic, and feelings of low self-worth and apathy. Such complex and difficult social issues require a multi-faceted approach with substantial follow-up and on-going opportunities.

In addition, the city or region itself must be committed to marketing and image issues in order to attract sustained growth and investment. This means continued attention to how additional developments may be attracted, providing on-going regeneration. Otherwise it is likely that such an area could eventually return to an area of low economic growth. This requires government support beyond a simple initial capital investment. Past initiatives have shown that capital investment alone and / or leaving on-going regeneration to solely private interests often result in the eventual marginalisation of those area residents who could most benefit from regeneration schemes.

The Sport City development in East Manchester is one example of a highly effective urban regeneration project, because it provides anon going sports presence in the area, was developed and continues to develop through partnerships amongst a number of affected entities, included substantial social programmes to address the immediate and addressed the on-going needs of the actual residents of the targeted area rather than simply gentrifying the community and shifting them toe new location.

The city’s continued support of the East Manchester area bodes well for the economic success of the project continuing well into the future, and continued improvement in both the quality of life in Manchester and the reduction in social exclusion amongst its residents. As such it can serve as a model for future urban regeneration projects, particularly those using sporting facilities as their flagship development.


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