Measuring Bang for the Buck: New ULI Report, Urban Investment Opportunities of Global Events, Looks at Impact of International Events on Growth in European Cities

For more information, contact Trish Riggs 1-202-624-7086; priggs@uli.org

LONDON (January 18, 2011) — Cities in Europe are increasingly vying for major international entertainment or sporting events as a way to expedite development and investment that will provide an economic boost lasting far beyond the actual events, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI), a global research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and innovative community building.

Urban Investment Opportunities of Global Events examines the experience of European cities that have already hosted international events, are preparing to host such events, or are considering whether such events can be effective for their own development. The case studies: Barcelona (Summer Olympics 1992), Paris (FIFA World Cup 1998), Lisbon (EXPO 1998), Turin (Winter Olympics 2006), London (Summer Olympics 2012), Glasgow (Commonwealth Games 2014), Milan (EXPO 2015), and Amsterdam (Summer Olympics bid, 2028). The report was published by ULI Europe, which serves ULI’s members throughout Europe.

Urban Investment Opportunities is based on the conclusions of a workshop sponsored earlier this year by ULI’s Urban Investment Network, established by the Institute’s operations in Europe. The network, developed in collaboration with leading European cities, institutions and private sector organizations, aims to foster an ongoing dialogue between public- and private- sector leaders on ways to bridge investment gaps and overcome urban development challenges. The purpose of the workshop was to explore the conditions under which international events can catalyze public and private investment in cities, and whether such events are relevant in the current economic environment as a means to attract investment into Europe’s cities.

The report points to multiple advantages gained by the city and nation hosting an international event:

  • The infrastructure and amenity requirements of the event are also useful for the city before and after the event;
  • The boost in tourism is beneficial on its own, and it leads to other types of investment and trade opportunities;
  • The land redevelopment required to host the facilities can spark regeneration of difficult sites and is also a stimulus for development planning, site assembly and preparation and property and land investment overall;
  • The global media exposure of an event allows a city or nation to reposition its identity and image to international markets, as in showcasing new niches, recent improvements and little-known assets;
  • The scale of the effort required and the fixed nature of the deadlines mandate project management efficiency. This often leads to institutional innovation and improved governance and collaboration; and
  • The international and inter-governmental commitments made to win the event have the effect of “locking in” investment planning to protect it from being cast aside by other priorities.

“Hosting international events can act as a catalyst or stimulus to shape and develop an urban investment market for several business cycles once an event has been awarded to a city,” the report says. “This means that almost all events will have an impact on urban land and property markets, infrastructure, planning and land use. In many cases these impacts will be direct and immediate, but in other cases they will be indirect and will take place over time as business cycles play and out and development cycles work through available sites to expand market geographies.”

The report points out that few cities are able to fully maximize the longer-term benefits of hosting a major event because stimulus effects may stretch over several business cycles, and have uneven geographic benefits related to proximity of neighborhoods to the infrastructure related to the event. “A key variable is the capability of the actors and managers in securing the optimum impact through focused and careful alignment of the event and its amenities with the long-term development requirements of the city.”

Urban Investment Opportunities of Global Events includes ten principles for using global events to attract urban investment:

  • Pick the right event. Different events offer distinctive legacies; it is essential to pick the event that will provide the legacy the city needs.
  • Focus on the legacy from the start. The investment in legacy and post-event uses of land, infrastructure, and amenities is best achieved when it is seen as a concurrent activity with event bidding and hosting, not as an activity that comes at the end of a sequence.
  • Deliberately shape the investment market, in terms of the infrastructure planned, amenities defined, longer-term uses of land, and the mix of neighborhoods and districts, and the future population mix.
  • Minimize the risk associated with the projects and portfolios related to the event to maximize investor interest.
  • Plan for the regional impact from the start by having greater clarity about the regional purpose of the event.
  • Plan in advance for the additional investment that will be needed to reconfigure the infrastructure, land and amenities for post-event uses.
  • Require the use of sustainable construction and minimal waste in terms of re-use of sites, land, materials and buildings.
  • Have a clear and compelling legacy and benefits story ready for the media, including post-event investment as a critical element.
  • Host continued international activities and events and to continue marketing efforts to retain and build interest in the post-event investment.
  • Successful hosting is essential for a successful legacy – the “halo effect” only works if the event is successful.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (uli.org) is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has nearly 30,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines, including more than 2,300 members in Western and Eastern Europe.