Football, horse racing, rugby, cricket – we love it all. In 2012, for example, the number of attendances at professional sports events reached 75 million, according to the Sport and Recreation Alliance. That’s more than enough for every person in the entire nation to have gone once.
And it’s not just hardcore fans supporting their local teams: there’s a massive demand for the major sporting events hosted in the UK each year. What’s more, local businesses get a boost when these events come to town.
Grand National and hospitality
As Aintree prepares for the 2015 Grand National, you can bet Liverpool’s hospitality industry is preparing itself for some serious revenue, too. In 2013, with around 150,000 people attending the race, the city and its surrounding areas saw roughly £9 million spent in hotels, bars and restaurants over a long weekend.
According to the Liverpool Echo, people spent £27 million at the course itself over the three days of the festival. And this spend is on more than betting. Corporate hospitality packages give companies an easy way to boost employee morale and network at major events.
Cities are earning more from the Tour
Just last year, the start of the Tour de France – the world’s largest annual sporting event – generated around £130 million for the economies of the host regions, with £102 million for Yorkshire, £19.5 million for London, and the remainder going to Cambridgeshire and Essex.
More specifically, the race created a total of £24.3 million for the accommodation sector, which is hardly surprising given the staggering 3.5 million roadside spectators.
‘We’re absolutely delighted the event brought so much money to the county to help businesses big and small,’ announced Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire.
Llandudno’s big break
This year saw snooker’s World Grand Prix hit the seaside town in north Wales.
For hotel and B&B owners, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect: 1,000 nights of hotel stays were taken up by the organisers and television teams alone, filling spaces in what’s normally a quiet period between Christmas and Easter.
These crews were also predicted to bring £300,000 to the local economy. And that’s before considering the thousands of spectators who attended.
The tip of the iceberg
Even at first glance these huge sporting events might bring millions of pounds to local economies. But that’s without taking into account the long-term benefits to each region’s tourism industries.
Public exposure, television coverage and media hype could all mean that these areas of the UK start seeing visitor number boosts in the future as well. According to UK Sport, after last year’s Tour de France stages, 44% of non-Yorkshire residents returned to the region after the event, with 40% of visitors from outside Cambridgeshire, Essex and London returning to those areas too.
‘There are benefits for the county which are impossible to measure,’ claimed Verity. ‘The profile of Yorkshire around the world has never been higher and this will have a lasting impact on visitor numbers and businesses for years and years to come.’
The future of UK sports events?
Clearly, the UK has a sizeable appetite for its longstanding national pastimes. But there’s also a growing demand for sports that aren’t normally our forte.
In 2013, two National Football League (NFL) games were held at Wembley stadium, creating £32 million for the London economy. And, according to a 2014 report by Deloitte, bringing an American Football franchise to the capital could mean a benefit of £102 million with a season of just eight games.
Dan Jones, head of Sports Business Group at Deloitte, called the impact of the NFL on the London economy ‘a valuable addition to the capital’s calendar of major sporting events’.
‘If in future the NFL were to have a London-hosted franchise, we estimate that could deliver at least £100m of direct economic benefit, as well as further reinforcing London’s status as one of the world’s top cities for sport.’
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