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Helping global sports events think local

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24 March 2021

Helping global sports events think local

Associate Professor of Sport Management

Wednesday 24 March • Viewing time: 1 minute

Our researchers have devised a way to measure the economic and social impacts of sports events — and their method is being used from Wimbledon to the London Marathon.

Sheffield hosts two major football clubs and the annual World Snooker Championship. Our portfolio of sports events creates jobs, attracts investment and brings in visitors who spend money in the local economy. It all contributes to the Sheffield City Region’s sports and leisure industry, worth £800 million each year.

Since 1996, Sheffield Hallam’s Sport Industry Research Group (SIRG) has led the way in measuring the local, regional and national impacts of major sporting events like the ones we host here in Sheffield. Our research method and online toolkit are now industry standard — and have even shaped policy and legislation.

The cancelled, postponed and spectatorless sports of 2020-21 have taken a major toll. It’s never been more important to measure and demonstrate how these events contribute to their host communities — but how can we go about it?

Spending habits, local businesses and long-term benefits

To quantify local impact, we look at new money being spent in the local economy because of an event. 

We’ve surveyed thousands of spectators and other attendees at events like Wimbledon to understand their spending behaviour. This might include asking people where they are from and how much money they are spending on a given day, on what, and where. 

This information helps to determine how much money is going to local businesses and how much of this originates outside the local economy. We can take this further and survey the businesses too, to see whether they also trade locally.

On top of spectator and other attendee spending, we also think about the longer term impact of factors like media coverage, investment and infrastructure upgrades on the area. 

The more detailed we are, the clearer the picture is. Using this data, organisers can prove the value of their events to local authorities and funding bodies.

A sports stadium
Sports events have major benefits for their host communities.

Rolling out the research

Since 2010, we’ve covered more than 100 major sporting and cultural events across the UK, Ireland and France, including Wimbledon, the Tour de France, the London Marathon, Henley Royal Regatta and the Ryder Cup. The majority of this research was commissioned by UK Sport, the government body responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sports.

We’ve also worked with national governing bodies of specific sports. Our work on the Open Golf Championship for The R&A confirmed how the event brings major economic benefits to its host locations.

Another piece of research for the Motor Sports Association (MSA) demonstrated how the economic benefits of closing public roads to host motorsport events in Britain would likely outweigh the cost and inconvenience. We found that these events could generate up to £40 million of additional revenue for local communities, at no cost to the taxpayer.

These findings were directly referenced to influence a change in legislation. Local authorities can now suspend laws like the Road Traffic Act to organise events on public roads.

A tool for everyone

Building on the success of our research, we’ve led the development of an online toolkit (eventIMPACTS.com) for the sport industry to help other organisations follow the same formula.

This toolkit allows organisers to make reliable predictions on the returns they can expect to receive from future events.

It’s now used as standard across the industry. UK Sport, Tourism Northern Ireland, EventScotland, London & Partners and the Welsh Government — the events and tourism bodies for the governments of all UK home nations — all require event organisers to use the methods in our toolkit when applying for funding.

"The resources available on eventIMPACTS have been adopted as best practice across the UK and are a great starting point for any event organiser looking to evaluate their event in a consistent and realistic way”

— Chief Operating Officer, UK Sport

Rebuilding communities

Our research has shown the real economic benefits of sports events on communities up and down the UK. 

But there’s a social element to sports too which is equally important. Part of our research is also measuring the impact of sports events against public health objectives — showing how they can inspire people to get active and improve their wellbeing.

Considering the long-term effects of Covid-19 on both mental health and local economies, our work is more important than ever.

Links and publications

Research team

Girish Ramchandani

Girish Ramchandani

Associate Professor of Sport Management

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Richard J Coleman

Richard J Coleman

Principal Research Fellow

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Simon Shibli

Professor Simon Shibli

Professor of Sport Management and Head of Centre

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About this project

Explore the people and organisations behind this research, and find related publications by the research team.

Related courses

Our teaching is informed by research. Browse undergraduate and postgraduate courses with links to this research project, topic or team.

Get in touch

Find key contacts for enquiries about funding, partnerships, collaborations and doctoral degrees.

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