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Special Olympics provides huge economic impact to Sheffield

28 February 2018

An independent report and research conducted by Sheffield Hallam University shows that Sheffield received an economic boost of over £3million during August last year due to Special Olympics GB’s National Games taking place in the city.

The Games – held every four years – was the biggest disability multi-sports event in the country in 2017, with 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities from across England, Scotland and Wales taking part in 20 different sports across a dozen South Yorkshire venues.

The event kicked off with a spectacular Opening Ceremony at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane stadium on Tuesday 8 August 2017, followed by four days of thrilling and uplifting sporting action.

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We were thrilled to host the Special Olympics National Games last summer and it’s great that this research reflects the positive financial impact that the athletes, their families, the spectators and the media attention had on Sheffield. I’d like to thank everyone involved for making the event such a huge success.”

Richard Coleman, principal researcher of the Sport Industry Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University, said: ”An economic impact on Sheffield of £3.28m vindicates the decision to bring the Special Olympics GB National Games back to the city and is testament to the desire, time and resources committed by national and local agencies in delivering a wonderful sporting spectacle and celebration of the human spirit.”

Sheffield boxing legend and Special Olympics ambassador Kell Brook said: “I was thrilled to be a Games ambassador for the event and I am delighted it has had such an impact on the city and so many people’s lives.”

The direct economic impact of the Games was measured in terms of the amount of new money that flows into the Sheffield economy that is attributable to the event.

The direct economic impact on Sheffield was estimated at £3.28m. More than 7,500 (of the estimated 9,200 different) spectators were visiting from outside the city and accounted for half of the impact (£1.65m). Visiting athletes, coaches and other attendee groups collectively generated a further £1.31m (40%), and net organisational expenditure in Sheffield contributed the remaining £0.31m (10%).

Accommodation (£1.67m) and food & beverage (£0.7m) were responsible for the majority of visitor spending in the city, whilst shopping accounted for a further £0.29m of the impact on Sheffield.

Feedback from spectators was also very positive. Among the local people who were interviewed, each felt a sense of pride that Sheffield was hosting the Games. The majority felt that the Games made a positive difference to how they felt about living in the city and that the Games had brought the local community together.

The majority of visitors from outside Sheffield felt that their visit to the Games had enhanced their image of the city and they were more likely to recommend Sheffield as a place to visit.

The scale of the estimated economic impact, the pride expressed by local spectators and the positive perceptions about the event bodes well for both the future of the Special Olympics GB National Games and major events in Sheffield.

Chris Hull, spokesperson for Special Olympics GB, said: “We greatly value this report and the key findings that Special Olympics GB and our 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities competing at our National Games provided an additional stimulus to the city of Sheffield in excess of £3 million.

“This is great news for potential future hosting cities. Not only can Special Olympics and our athletes provide events which are packed with the very best of human achievement and endeavour but they also give regions around the country a huge boost of energy, pride, inclusion and finance.”