Stadiums, public spaces and mega-events: cultural and sports facilities as catalysts for urban regeneration and development
A great shift towards urban regeneration has been gradually taking place for four decades, emerging originally from the United States. Reprised and applied to the European context ever since the 1980s, this concept now refers to an urbanism of transformation and not of expansion. This transformation is characterized by a return to the city, mostly from a qualitative perspective, and by the strengthening of urban centrality through the logics of global activities. Urban regeneration must therefore be understood as a new mode of fabrication and transformation of the city. Within this context, cultural and sporting mega-events, such as the summer and winter Olympics, the Football World Cup and the World Fairs, are gaining in importance and become central to the development and regeneration plans of many contemporary metropolises. Consequently, and beyond this conceptual reflection on the subject, this chapter aims mostly at analyzing and illustrating one important component of urban regeneration; the usage of sporting and cultural elements as development catalysts and as legitimization for great urban projects. This will be achieved through cultural and Olympic case studies and through a glance at North American professional sports.