chapter  22
14 Pages

Sport and urban regeneration

ByJuan Luis Paramio-Salcines

The study of the relation between sport and urban regeneration and their effects on cities and their citizens has a long history in Western cities. While the chronology and aims may vary from city to city and country to country, since the Second World War sports-related projects have been increasingly employed as part of the regeneration strategies of many cities. There is neither a unique sport strategy linked to urban regeneration nor an accepted model to drive regeneration through sports initiatives as a feature of the postmodern city. The nature of sport has therefore the potential to contribute in various forms, both traditional and new, to the regeneration of urban areas, which is specifically examined in this chapter. Focusing on a major sporting event such as the Olympic Games, the first signs of the use of a sport project as a key instrument to promote significant changes and other associated developments in cities may be found with the 1960 Rome Olympics. This event was successfully emulated by the city of Munich, which built and concentrated all the new sports venues required for the 1972 Olympic Games (including the distinctive Olympic Stadium designed by Günter Behnisch and Frei P. Otto, in a massive derelict area in the north of the city as part of the Olympic Park), which even today represent a significant legacy for the city. Essex and Chalkley (1998), Coaffee (2007), Gold and Gold (2007) and more recently Smith (2012) coincide in noting that the Olympic Games of Rome 1960, Munich 1972 and especially Barcelona 1992 have been presented as showcases of sport-led urban regeneration. It is also worth pointing out that, since the 1970s, city leaders in Indianapolis have embarked on a long-term sports strategy to develop amateur sports as an industry in the city, and also to rebuild the city centre and change its image, a case that has been widely studied. Despite having been criticized for the limited impact on the development and economic growth of Indianapolis over the period 1974-92 (Rosentraub et al., 1994), this strategy has been emulated by other cities worldwide. The cases of Indianapolis and other cities have opened a wide debate on the effectiveness of sport as a strategy to promote significant transformations in contemporary cities. Despite differences about what features characterize contemporary urban regeneration and sport under post-Fordist economies, there appear to be some recurrent and inexorably linked trends. Consistent with much of the literature on urban politics, there is broad agreement that the

nature and characteristics of contemporary urban policies and sport have gradually been reasserted as part of the shift from the ‘managerial and social’ concerns of previous policies to local government being more ‘proactive and entrepreneurial’, with the development of partnerships between business and political interests to shape urban politics, partly driven by experiences in North American cities, with the role and nature of sport being gradually undermined as part of the welfare agenda in favour of a growing emphasis on sport as a salient economic growth strategy consistent with urban entrepreneurialism (see, e.g. Atkinson and Moon, 1994; Burbank, Andranovich and Heying, 2001; Callicott, 2000; Coaffee, 2007; Harvey, 1990; Hall and Hubbard, 1998; Henry and Gratton, 2001; Henry and Paramio-Salcines, 1999; Osborne and Gaebler, 1992; Paramio-Salcines, 2000; Schimmel, 1995, 2001; Smith, 2012; Tallon, 2010; Thornley, 2002). Marking a sharp break with the recent history of sport and urban regeneration, we have witnessed an emerging trend with more cities of developing countries1 (either alone or as part of a wider national strategy), such as in Brazil (Rio, and the 2014 Football World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games), Russia (Sochi, and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the 2018 Football World Cup), India (New Delhi and the 2010 Commonwealth Games; Uppal, 2009), China (Beijing and the 2008 Olympic Games; Tien, Lo and Lin, 2011), South Africa (Durban and the 2010 Football World Cup; Maening and Schwarthoff, 2006; Maening and du Plessis, 2009) or Qatar (Doha, and the 2006 Asian Games, the 2020 Football World Cup and currently bidding for the 2020 Olympic Games), to name just a few. These have used (or are using) sports related projects as part of massive regeneration schemes. An overpopulated city such as New Delhi aspires to be, after the organization of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, a ‘prospective bidder for international sporting events’ (Uppal, 2009: 8, original emphasis). Some of them are at the planning stage and others have embarked on (a serial reproduction of strategies as Harvey, 1990 claims) or major and minor related projects with considerable financial investment in those projects. Contemporary cities and their political and economic elites justify the promotion of sports projects based on the combination of a myriad of accepted effects such as the promotion and revitalization of their local economy, the fostering of economic and social benefits, the enhancing of their cities’ images worldwide in some cases and in others acceleration of the regeneration of derelict areas and other associated effects, which are less tangible but equally attractive (Coaffee, 2007; Essex and Chalkley, 1998; Henry and Gratton, 2001; Jones and Evans, 2008; Shoval, 2002; Schimmel, 2001; Zagnoli and Radicchi, 2009). As Nieto and Sobejano (2001) comment below, in reference to the expected implications that the bidding of Madrid for the 2012 Olympic Games (and later on included in the bid book of the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games) would have on the city:

Hosting the Olympic Games is an exceptional opportunity to define and co-ordinate the urban and architectural transformations required by big cities which are difficult to accomplish under normal circumstances. Paradoxically, a sporting event has the potential to make radical changes to the development of a city.