‘How sports events shape host cities’- Development of a comparative framework for assessing the impact of sporting events on the host location

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Linley, Michael (2021) ‘How sports events shape host cities’- Development of a comparative framework for assessing the impact of sporting events on the host location. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


As the costs associated with bidding and hosting mega-events continues to escalate, the need to establish the benefits of these undertakings rises in step with governments coming under increasing scrutiny over the investment in sports events. Despite the billions spent each year in bidding for and hosting major sports events; the assessment of claimed benefits lacks a recognised or comparable method for assessing the hosting of major sporting events, with each federation, organiser or agency applying its own methodology. Despite an increasing body of research on event outcomes and potential classification frameworks, the mega-event dominant research focus neglects other events and their potential impacts; hampering current and prospective hosts from critically reassessing their event portfolio, bidding more selectively, and grounding events within their longer-term development plans and financial resources. This research challenges how terminology for the associated and myriad of outcomes the hosting of events has morphed to one of ‘legacy’ without any agreed definition of either the term itself or its constituent components. It seeks to explore whether a conceptual framework for the comparative assessment of event impact across events of different scales and types, including recurrent editions of events for the same host, could be established. Adopting a focus on event impacts rather than legacies represents not a semantic choice but a determination to create a more constrained framework that allows smaller, higher-frequency events to be considered alongside quadrennial large-scale events on a comparable and consistent basis. The development of the conceptual framework was grounded in an initial literature review of event impact and legacy assessment from which six core areas (Pillars) of event impact were identified; Economic, Social, Sport, Media, Brand, and Environment with 30 sub-areas (Drivers). From 350+ potential measures identified, 200+ metrics were included in the study with panellists rating measures on both their importance and reliability in assessing event impact. Using a Delphi method, the study sought to establish if consensus views on the relative importance of each of the pillars, drivers, and measures could be established across three survey rounds. Despite the rhetoric that event legacy is unable to be defined, the findings show that there exists a solid underlying consensus on event impacts and how different areas contribute to the overall impact. Three tiers of impact emerged with Economic and Sport outcomes forming the top tier, with Media, Social and Brand outcomes grouped in a second tier, and the final pillar of Environment forming the lowest tier. Evidence of significant bias within groups was found that reflects a lack of cross-discipline awareness and the need for greater collaboration between the event sector and academia. Uncovering bias enabled their influence on the consensus scores to be explicitly addressed and placed the importance of each dimension in the context of overall event impact. The framework established in this study was shown to provide a strong basis for a consensus on the attribution of event impact. Using a multi-level structure allows for the core areas of impact to be consistently assessed in a standardised framework allowing for greater comparability across events, and for hosts to be more informed in building an event portfolio. Further work on the technical development of the framework and its application by host cities is discussed.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/43938
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3504 Commercial services
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords sports events, sporting events, event impact, legacy, legacy assessment, Delphi method, comparative framework, host cities, event measurement, economic impact, economic, sport, media, social, brand, environment, marketing, bidding, stakeholders
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