Podcast: The Economic and Social Impacts of Mega-Events

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With the World Cup finishing this weekend, Professor Calvin Jones and Dr Matt Lyons discuss what are the economic and social impacts of mega-events and how can they be effectively measured. What do countries gain from hosting events like the World Cup or the Commonwealth Games? 

This podcast was inspired by the Birmingham Economic Review 2022.

The annual Birmingham Economic Review is produced by City-REDI, University of Birmingham and the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce. It is an in-depth exploration of the economy of England’s second city and a high-quality resource for informing research, policy and investment decisions.

View and download the Birmingham Economic Review. 

To find out even more about Birmingham’s economy, including GVA, unemployment and CO2 emission, please visit our Birmingham Economic Review data dashboards.

The podcast covered the following topics:

Are mega-events worth the money?

Mega-events are often used as an opportunity for regeneration, like the Barcelona 1992 Olympics, or the London 2012 Olympics where parts of these cities were rejuvenated through the events.  Sometimes they provide a vehicle to replace old stadiums like the Cardiff Rugby World Cup of 1999, where Cardiff Arms Park was replaced by the Millennium Stadium through lottery funding. But in a strictly economic sense, do you get your money back?

Read our blog on the World Cup -Qatar World Cup 2022: Counting the Cost of the Beautiful Game

The challenges of evaluating mega-events

How do you separate economic data from mega-events from general economic data to enable you to attribute it to the mega-event, and therefore judge the impact? The scale of a city’s economy is vast in comparison to an event.

Does it really matter if mega-events are good value for money?

A year after the London Olympics, a ComRes poll showed that nearly two-thirds of the population believed that the £9 billion bill for the event was worth the money. Does the cost of events really matter, or are perceptions more important?

The Qatar World Cup cost over £130 billion to put on. Have we moved beyond Mega-events into giga-events?

Will we see a continuation in the growth of events in their size? Is this a reflection of the governments that are hosting the events?

The environmental concerns of mega-events

Mega-events usually involve large amounts of construction and people travelling by aeroplane to distant locations on mass. At the Qatari World Cup,  the country needed to build hotels, roads, public spaces, transport systems and stadiums. Does it matter when compared to the carbon footprint of a nation? Does the way organisations like FIFA claim to be green, reflect society at large?

Listen to our podcast about the economic and social impacts of mega-events.

View a transcript for the podcast. 

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI / WM REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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