Sporting a new image?
Over the past decade, several cities in the UK, including Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield, have made determined efforts and devoted considerable resources to bidding for, and staging major sporting events and constructing prestige sport facilities. Despite other proposed benefits, including urban regeneration and local economic development, an important justification for the implementation of these schemes is the supposed resultant enhancement of the city’s image. Indeed, the use of sporting initiatives as a means of city image enhancement is explicitly recognised by the authorities involved, as well as by several academic commentators. As Loftman and Spirou (1996: 28) state, rather than concentrating on the detailed financial implications of sport stadia, civic leaders tend to focus on the city’s image and the future direction of the city. Therefore, recent sporting developments in cities are often motivated by, and justified by, the desire to forge a new image for a city.