Building on a Bid
Some of the most visible legacies in an Olympic host city are the sporting venues that are built or redeveloped to stage the Games, but some cities have also been able to use unsuccessful Olympic bids to create new facilities for their residents, providing numerous long-term benefits.
Manchester, for example, submitted bids for both the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, which were awarded to Atlanta and Sydney respectively. As part of its bid commitments, the city had already started construction on a new National Cycling Centre and the Victoria Arena. Although it missed out on the chance to host the Olympic Games, both venues were completed and have since become world-class facilities that have hosted major international events – such as the 2002 Commonwealth Games – and contributed to both the local economy and the long-term regeneration of Manchester.
“We would not have accomplished what we have in Manchester today without the two Olympic bids,” explains Eamonn O’Rourke, Head of Community and Cultural Services at Manchester City Council (MCC). “It certainly would not have been possible within a certain pre-defined period of time and without the same focus.”
The first venue to open was the National Cycling Centre – a 3,500-seat indoor track cycling arena that was completed in 1994. In addition to the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the venue has also hosted the UCI Track Cycling World Championships three times, as well as numerous UCI Track Cycling World Cup events.
Members of the public are also able to use the facility on a daily basis, while it has also become the permanent home of the British cycling team, which has gone from strength to strength since the opening of the National Cycling Centre, winning 53 track cycling medals at the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.
“The presence of the track helped our organisation to centralise its operations both at elite and at grassroots level from Manchester,” explains Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling. “The track at the NCC and the availability of funding have transformed the success of British riders in major championships and the Olympic Games.”
Manchester’s Victoria Arena, meanwhile, was originally planned as the gymnastics venue if the 2000 Olympic bid was successful. Now known as the MEN Arena, the 21,000-capacity facility opened in 1995 and has since become one of the busiest concert arenas in the world, playing host to the likes of U2 and Beyoncé. In total, the venue stages between 100 and 150 events per year, including heavyweight boxing contests and elite ice hockey and basketball matches.