Economy & Jobs

3 Steps to Making Large City Events a Success

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Major city events such as the Olympic Games and the World Cup have a rough reputation these days. After seeing Athens, Rio de Janeiro, and other places struggle financially after hosting large sporting events, many cities are reluctant to do the same. But taxpayers shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss hosting these events. With the right planning, they can lead to significant benefits for a city.

Host locations that have seen long-term success aimed to achieve three goals for their events:

1. Encourage Future Tourism

When a city hosts a major international event, practically the whole world watches it for a few weeks. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the city as a tourism destination. Barcelona is one of the best examples of this strategy, points out VisitScotland. Prior to hosting the Summer Olympics in 1992, Barcelona was not an especially well-known part of Spain. The city used the Olympics to showcase its sites, weather, and culture—and the world hasn’t forgotten. Barcelona is now one of the top destinations for international tourists. If a city wants jump-start its tourist industry, a large city event could be a great way to do so.

2. Build Useful Infrastructure

It costs billions to host the Olympics. The 2012 London Summer Games cost $14.8 billion and the 2014 Sochi Winter Games cost an estimated $51 billion, according to National Geographic—and those are just two examples. A large part of this money goes toward developing infrastructure that can handle the surge of tourists coming for the event. This is a chance for a city to build new public transportation, repair existing infrastructure, and rejuvenate run-down areas. However, these investments only pay off if they’re in a useful part of a city.

London used its 2012 Olympics as motivation to upgrade important parts of the city. Montreal, on the other hand, hosted the 1976 Summer Games primarily in a remote part of town that isn’t used frequently by residents and tourists. As a result, most of the Games’ infrastructure upgrades and buildings now sit unused—a waste of money and a great opportunity.

3. Use Stadiums in the Future

On that same note, if a city plans to spend a small fortune building new stadiums and other buildings for a major event, it needs to formulate a clear plan for using these buildings afterward. Otherwise, they’ll end up spending a massive amount of money on only a few weeks of activity. Brazil, for example, was heavily criticized for hosting 2014 World Cup events in cities that don’t have professional soccer teams. Several of the stadiums now sit unused, reports PanAm Post. London, however, is converting its main Olympic Stadium into a home for one of its professional soccer teams. It’ll be used regularly in the future.

Large city events can be extremely beneficial to their hosts, but only with the right plan. By following these guidelines, a city can turn a large-scale event into an investment that should pay off for years after the event is over.