Glasgow became the latest UK city to be chosen to host a big international sporting event after beating the Nigerian capital Abuja in the race to stage the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
In scenes reminiscent of the celebrations in Trafalgar Square when London was chosen to host the 2012 Olympics, hundreds turned up to acclaim Glasgow’s success in the city’s George Square and Old Fruitmarket. The announcement was relayed on giant TV screens from Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, where the vote of Commonwealth associations was held.
Glasgow was favourite to win the vote after the withdrawal of the Canadian city of Halifax in March. But Glasgow had to counter support for Abuja from Commonwealth countries that wanted to see the games staged in Africa for the first time. The vote went 47-24 for Glasgow.
Its bid was always technically superior, promising a “compact, green” games in keeping with the trend towards staging sporting spectacles in facilities that are sustainable and leave a legacy for the host city. The final presentation to delegates included a video narrated by Sir Sean Connery, the actor.
Glasgow’s victory adds weight to Gordon Brown’s oft-repeated claim that the UK was on the threshold of “a great sporting decade”.
With bids planned for the rugby and football world cups, the government is likely to step up support both for sports governing bodies organising bids and cities hosting sporting events, although Holyrood will remain the custodian of Glasgow’s games.
The 11-day event will involve up to 6,500 sportsmen and women competing in 17 sports. Most of the venues envisaged for staging the events already exist, including Hampden Park, Scotland’s national football stadium, which will host track and field events and the closing ceremony, as well as Parkhead and Ibrox, the home grounds of Celtic and Rangers football clubs.
Funds for most of the new facilities, including a new national indoor sports arena, a velodrome and a national entertainments centre, have already been committed.
The total cost of the games will be £348m. The Scottish Executive will pay four-fifths of a £297m public- sector contribution, the remainder of which will be made up by Glasgow city council. The shortfall will be filled by ticket sales, merchandising and sponsorship.
Party differences were put on hold as politicians across the spectrum hailed the potential regeneration and economic benefits for Glasgow. Dalmarnock, a district on the river Clyde in the deprived east end of the city, will be the location for the athletes’ village, to be converted into a 1,000-home community after 2014.
Steven Purcell, leader of Glasgow council, said the games would create “a lasting legacy for Glasgow, both economically and socially. The games will change the city, and change people’s lives.”
Organisers predict that the event will create 1,000 jobs in Glasgow and 1,200 in Scotland, the net economic benefits to the country being worth £81m. Tourism, one of Scotland’s key economic sectors, could rise by 4 per cent in the three years following the games.
Louise Martin, who chairs the Commonwealth Games Council for Scotland, which three years ago kick-started the country’s plans for a 2014 bid, said the inspiration was Manchester’s hosting of the 2002 games.
“I saw what the games did to regenerate that area of Manchester. We followed what they did,” she said.
Ms Martin added organisers consciously avoided linking the bid to the 2012 Olympics because they were entirely different events. But with the bid secured, there were mutual benefits to be gained, such as the use of training camps.
The Queen sent congratulations to the city, while Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister and leader of the Scottish National party, promised to make the games “the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen”.
He paid tribute to Jack McConnell, his predecessor and former Scottish Labour party leader, who launched the bid.
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