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Urban Regeneration and Sports Stadiums

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Published: Tue, 20 Feb 2018

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


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