MIPIM Sports and Urban Seminar scores - Greg Clark

MIPIM’s first event Sports and Urban Investment Seminar this week revealed an intriguing story of how sports events are being used to counteract the slow pace of economic growth and the challenges nature of public finances.

Andrew Altman from London Olympic Legacy Company explained how London is using the Olympics to achieve the long term regeneration of London’s poor East End, and through this to build a vibrant new market for investment in places with are only minutes away from some of the most valuable, but over sought after, properties anywhere in the world. Andrew focussed in explaining how London is simultaneously working towards three plans for the same space, The London Olympic Park. There is a plan for 2030, a plan for the post games transition, and a plan for the games time itself. What happens in the short term must contribute to the long term agenda. At the same time 3 different companies are established, one to build the facilities, one to run the Games , and one to plan for and manage the legacy.

Mateu Hernandez from Barcelona Global explained how Barcelona has built a sports cluster as a result of the trigger of the 1992 Olympics. Barcelona Football Club is the central node in a huge range of advanced firms that undertake sports media and advertising, sports science and medicine, injury rehabilitation, drug testing, event management, and sports related promotional activity. Hernandez noted that this cluster is now one arena Barcelona leads the world. A world class soccer team and a world class Olympic Games have spawned a winning sports industry.

Brian Field for the EIB explained how and why the EIB supports the major sports events, with investment in infrastructure and urban development. He also identified the key role of sports events in trigger urban regeneration and investment, and the critical role they play in building new identity and brands for a place.

Caspar Herzberg, Managing Director, Cisco Systems International BV explained that a major opportunity for a city in hosting a sports event sis to use it to drive technology supported governance improvements, in particular the ability to integrate system of transports, energy, security, city management, and telecoms. He identified a major improvement in South Africa since the 2012 World Cup being the integration of security systems through a shred technology platform.

Pierre Guyard, Market Director Cities & Residential, Cofely GDF SUEZ showed how environmental improvement can be driven through an event. He gave the case study of East London where due to the Olympics, over-ground energy cables and pylons have been removed and been replaced by high spec Biomass energy production capacity which is both greener, cheaper, and less blighting of the landscape.

Looking forwards to the 2012 European Soccer Championships, Marcin Przyłębski, Head of Investor Relations Department, Poznan City Hall described how Poznan is upgrading its sports, transport, and environmental infrastructure and is looking beyond 2012 to host many more sports events. He spoke of the role of the ‘2102 Euros’ in taking Poznan into the big league of successful sports cities.

Stuart Patrick, Chief Executive, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce looked towards the 2014 Commonwealth games in Glasgow and recognised that whilst regeneration is a major focus Glasgow is focussing on using existing facilities better and building its advanced economic clusters in engineering and other technological fields.

Overall, this seminar substantially broadened our view of what can achieved by hosting a major Sport events. Barcelona demonstrated that Sports can become a real economic cluster, driving real estate use and the need for major additional facilities. London showed how the Olympics can open up a new investment markets and creatr a new city within a city in a poor part of town. Glasgow showed that public health and Science and engineering can benefit and Poznan illustrated the ability for sports to put a city on the map in new ways.

Sports will drive urban investment and property demand with economic development, but they can also be a catalysts for improved city management, the integration of systems, and the improvements of environmental footprint though introduction of new green infrastructure.

At this point in the cycle of market demand and public finance constraints Sports events offer a means to concentrate investment in certain key locations, build a new market demand for land and property, and create a new image and identity for places that are not yet on the a map for investment. The key ingredient agreed by all the combination of a clear vision for what sports can achieve coupled with effective and disciplined management to achieve both the sports outcomes and the wider city development required.

Find out more about the relationship between sports and urban development in this month’s Urban Intelligence newsletter, with new exclusive content from cities expert and blogger, Greg Clark.

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