Assessment: Mega Sports Event to a Hallmark

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¶ … Mega Sports Event to a Hallmark Sports Event: The Olympics and Wimbledon on London

Impact and Issues of a Mega and Hallmark Sporting Event

Festivals and special events are organized in destinations, places, and regions to celebrate, offer a feast, boost economy and regional cooperation. Hallmark events are large special events with limited time, lower risks of congestion, environmental degradation, and financial investment related to issues like building permanent facilities like the Wimbledon or the European Capitals of Culture (Akerlund 2008). Mega or major events are events of extraordinary significance, reputation, and scale like the Olympic Games or the World Trade fairs. The commercial and political aspects of sports have expanded into domestic and international events like the Olympics and Wimbledon sports. These forces use hallmark and mega events to advance and promote peace, political, and social cohesion. This research uses the case examples of the Olympic and Wimbledon and their impact and issues on hosting location, in this case London. The findings of these cases will illustrate the ability of such events affecting the socio-cultural, environmental, economic, and even political aspects of locations. Of interest is the use of these events by urban developers to promote tourism-related economies to achieve regional development.

Ritchie defines hallmark events as "mega events of limited duration depending on uniqueness, status, or timely significance to create interest and attract attention" (1984 p.2). According to Westerbeek, Turner, and Ingerson, hallmark sporting events are commercial driven entities representing the economic importance of the sport industry. Cities and locations base their city marketing activities on hallmark sporting events like Manchester and the Commonwealth Games, to maximize the benefits achieved from event-driven sponsorship, tourism, and media exposure.

Hallmark and mega sporting events alike have an economic impact on the host location. According to Quinn (2009), hallmark events increasingly become incorporated in the regional and urban development agendas thereby having a long-term effect on the economy. Mega sporting events like the Olympics have major effects on the economy. Positive economic effects are associated with advancement of economic and infrastructure development to facilitate the hosting of the games. Nations that have hosted the Olympics like China and the U.K. have had to make radical changes to their infrastructure due to the infrastructural requirements of the games. According to Andersson, Armbrecht, and Lundberg (2008) the economic impact of sporting events is associated with the value of resources used to produce the event (p.163). This is then evaluated against the resulting economic activities and revenues generated by the event through activities like tourism, lodging, transport, food, and infrastructure.

Chen (2008) indicates that mega-sporting events have huge economic impact on a host location since they require funding to put in place structure, creation of employment, retail, and tourism consequences, and urban regeneration through restructuring. A negative economic effect of mega-events like the Olympics is the cost of hosting the events, which can lead to debts as seen with Montreal 1976 Games. Where costs exceed the revenue of a mega event, the event is said to be economically inefficient (Andersson, Armbrecht, and Lundberg 2008). Costs arise from factors like funding, hosting expenditure, build-out, and bidding and planning phase, infrastructure development, and image promotion (Chen 2009). Unlike Mega events, recurring hallmark sporting events like the Wimbledon cost less since they utilize the same venues and facilities. Hallmark events ingrained in the domestic development plans of a community have a larger and long-term economic impact on a location than a mega event. The Wimbledon Tennis tournament generates millions of pounds per year, with the percentage revenues increasing with each year. For example, in 2012, the games created a 7.1% increase in profit of $60.8 million or 7.7 million pounds as compared to 2011. The event recorded a 47% profit rise from 2008, becoming the only grass-court event to generate a large profit for a location (Rossingh 2012).

A review of literature indicates that hallmark-sporting events provide a high status image due to the number of people attracted to them. This is because people are attracted to the destinations because of the sport not the region itself. For this reason, hallmark-sporting events are used by the tourism industry to place emphasis on marketing and promoting a place or city (Westerbeek, Turner, and Ingerson 2002). This is similar for mega sporting events like the Olympics, which are seen as major drivers of the tourism prospects in a community (Andrea et al. 2007 p.458). This research finds ample evidence from an analysis of the 2012 Olympic Games and Wimbledon games on London.

The 2012 Olympic Games have been reported to improve the profile of London and the UK, increasing the tourism industry of the city and nation. The mega event presented London with an opportunity to display the city, sites, and facilities to visitors who were drawn to the events. Consequently, the sporting events presented London with a potential tourism benefits during and after the games. On any given year, London attracts 2-2.5 million visitors in July and August, by the Olympics attracted an additional 600,000 plus visitors, mostly from overseas (Bull and Weed 2012). The Wimbledon tennis championship is a hallmark-sporting event used by London each year to market the city. The sporting event equally increases the tourism attraction of London as approximately 350,000 visitors visit Wimbledon each year (Great Britain House of Commons Committee 2008). Those visiting Wimbledon do so to experience the pinnacle of excellence in tennis. As the cities prepare to present visitors with the leisure and sport facilities, this social welfare presents opportunities to create and support a tourism economy (Bull and Weed 2012). Therefore, hallmark sporting events like mega sporting events present immediate economic effects in terms of increased tourism of sports to a location. This is because the planning and preparation of these events requires expansion of accommodation and leisure facilities, the hospitality sector, and infrastructure like communication, transportation, and security. Nations that have hosted the Olympics like China and the U.K. have had to make radical changes to their infrastructure due to the infrastructural requirements of the games (Heslop, John, and Norm 2010 p.404). However, indicates that unlike hallmark events like the Wimbledon, which re-occurs creating significant impact on a location, mega onetime events like the Olympics may not have the expected impact. This is because the immediate and future benefits of the Olympic Games are not apparent and is varied. For example, while the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games were an apparent economic success to the city, the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal were not economically viable as the city run into economic debt going unpaid for three decades. According to the PR Newswire (2012) the Sydney Olympics of 2000, indicated a 6.3% drop in the number of guests arrivals in hotels, with hotels in Athens indicating a 5.3% fall in arrivals in 2004.

In theory, sporting events also have an impact of the social and cultural aspects of a location or a people. This is because apart from athletic competition, hosts present an ally of parallel cultural events to display the cultural accomplishments of the community (Heslop, John, and Norm 2010 p.404). This is the creation of an aesthetic value of a location through selling of key cultural practices, especially in mega sporting events like the Olympics. For example, in London's 2012 Olympic and Paralympics, sporting events were accompanied by cultural events like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Culture Olympiad (Benjamin 2011). These cultural events were presented as a lead up to the main Olympics, attracting artists from across the globe. These cultural events were used to display London, and the UK as the home an empire run by a royal family. Often, mega events like the Olympics leave a lasting cultural impression on visitors who visit the location. However, for hallmark sporting events, the cultural impression of the events is imprinted into the location leading the sporting events into a cultural activity of the place. This cultural impression is quite different for the local community hosting a onetime mega event like the Olympic as compared to hosting a recurring hallmark event like the Wimbledon Tennis Games.

The Wimbledon Games have created a culture in the community of quiet, calm, respect, orderly queuing, precisely uniformed officers, and assiduous ground staff as great British symbols. The sporting event is a worldwide-recognized institution that presents an image of Wimbledon and London, made of Pimm's and lemonade, cream, strawberries, and champagne as ingredients of the British Summer. The Wimbledon games create an image of a location with strict dress code for players and a traditional Wimbledon whites (Francis 2009). This is different from the U.S. Open, since the Wimbledon Games are associated with a British culture of quietness with a lack of advertising and promotional material, muted color white, green, and purple and a quiet ballot-selected audience. This is in contrast with the colorful and noisy Olympics or a loud, capitalist, advertising laden and revenue-laden U.S. Open (Francis 2009). The Wimbledon has become the perfect British upper- and middle-class tradition, with… [END OF PREVIEW]

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