A playbook for stadiums to get the most value out of hosting a major sporting event


Global design, engineering and consulting firm Arup and The International Academy of Sport Science and Technology (AISTS) have launched a social value ‘playbook’, designed to show potential host cities and organizers of major events how to implement clear and defined community benefits at the start of legacy programs to achieve long-term, positive social impact.

Developed by Arup and based on research from AISTS Master’s students, the playbook identifies four areas of focus for social value initiatives, looking at each stage of the process from planning through to post-event legacy.  Throughout these stages it also highlights the need to prioritize social value ‘levers’, including establishing a legacy foundation to take charge of the program, finding a secure source of funding, and partnership with public and private sector stakeholders.

It identifies initiatives in health and wellbeing, economic growth, urban development/environmental sustainability, and social and cultural inclusion – with each recommendation aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Having this framework will allow those behind the world’s biggest events to examine how physical and social changes can be made which can bring benefits to their cities which far outlast the immediate economic boost brought about by the event itself.  It also highlights the danger of allowing an event to overshadow existing problems in a region and helps organizers to ensure attention isn’t drawn away from tackling important local issues, with a recommendation to always address basic needs first.

Nic Merridew, Director at Arup, said: “Hosting a major event is an incredibly exciting time for a city or region – but if approached in the right way can also provide a golden opportunity to bring long term benefits to residents and communities.

“This playbook sets out how organizers can get the most value out of hosting the world’s biggest sporting occasions – looking beyond what is needed to deliver the event itself and using the investment it brings to improve the area for generations to come.”

Nalain Naidoo, Head of Business Development at AISTS, said: ” Major events have the potential to have a positive impact on cities when the social needs and values of its communities become deeply embedded into the event and its legacy. Meaningful social impact of events deliver far higher long term economic (ROI) and social return on investments (SROI).

“This playbook reveals the intangible value of interacting with communities and how non-economic outcomes can have a significantly greater long term impact if approached strategically.”

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