tourism & city branding

City branding: The benefits of being the home of reknown professional sports clubs

May 15, 2018

What Opportunities Do They Have for Cities? – “Being home to professional sports team allows the city to shine and puts it on the map, both nationally and internationally.”
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Sport cities have many characteristics in common: they offer a wide variety of sport programmes for their population, they host numerous national and international sporting events on a yearly basis and they are often also the home of successful sports team.

While the first two are usually well-exploited by cities, many do not realise the full potential of being home to sports teams and do not take advantage of such circumstances. With this, cities miss a real opportunity to further develop and shine at an international level.

The question is, what opportunities do professional sports clubs have for their cities? Listed below are 3 ways in which sports teams bring value to cities:

1. Civic pride

Professional sports teams are very much involved in bringing value to communities outside of the arena, gathering people around a cause and striving for change by building charitable and community programs.

NBA Cares is a great example that illustrates sports teams’ commitment of addressing important social issues. Its programmes and participants offered more than 4.1 million hours of their time to build 1,115 shelters and sport facilities where families and children could live or play together. NBA cares also created an educational programme where more than 18 million young children are taught the values of the game annually.

The Montreal Canadiens, the oldest professional Hockey franchise in the world, is another example of professional clubs willing to be a vector of change for its community. The Canadiens have developed a flag ship project called “Bleu Blanc Bouge” (blue white red), focused on building refrigerated and multipurpose rinks in less privileged neighbourhoods. To date, more than 200,000 children from underprivileged backgrounds have benefited from this programme. Cities should be aware of the special ‘pull’ that their sports teams have in attracting support and building participation, and use this to their collective advantage.

2. National and Global Exposure

Being home to professional sports team allows the city to shine and puts it on the map, both nationally and internationally.

Oklahoma City, relatively unknown on the sports scene before the Seattle Supersonics moved the city (under the name Oklahoma City Thunder), saw its economy skyrocket, with an economic impact going over millions of dollars.

The same applies to Green Bay, famous internationally largely thanks to its football team, the Green Bay Packers. With over 87% of Green Bay’s population supporting the team, the Green Bay Packers have enabled the city to thrive over the years, being a being a catalyst for a boost in the city’s tourism and leading to an estimated economic impact of more than $300 million.

Though not directly related to professional sports clubs, another special case worth sharing is Lausanne – home to more than 55 sports organisations and federations. Lausanne has tried to maximise the presence of International Olympic Committee in the City by creating an environment where other sports organisations could flourish, knowing the city would benefit from a strong economic, social and cultural impact, including the development of tourism, building of museums and creations of special sports programmes together with the universities and schools established in the city. Over the years, Lausanne became well-known in the world of international sports and is today branded as Olympic Capital. Cities wanting to further their global presence should consider how they can work with their clubs and other professional sports organisations.

3. Economic impact

Sports infrastructures should be much more than simply an immovable space for hosting large events. Rather, they should spur the economy of a city.

This impact of sports infrastructure can be measured in several ways, including the development of transportation projects, nearby businesses, tourism and job growth. A newly-built stadium can result in the great regeneration of the surrounding neighbourhoods, and history has shown that the development of these areas will attract corporate headquarters to establish in the city, thereby generating new revenue streams for the city.

After 16 months of planning, the Great Green Bay Chamber recently created a plan, heavily supported by the Green Bay Packers, which aims to enhance the Green Bay community and economy. The professional team invested in the development of a new Titletown District, located next to their stadium and including plans for leisure areas, shops, hotels and restaurants in a 45-hectare area, encouraging more people to the city and the district. If cities are looking for a long-lasting economic impact, alongside the regeneration of certain areas, engaging with the professional sports teams in the area is a fantastic and potentially mutually-beneficial place to start.

Collaborating with professional sports clubs should be of great interest for any city willing to give a push to its development and exposure. Sports clubs have unique set of followers, structures, and amenities that attract people and leverage the city’s future. Ultimately, it is in the both the city’s interest and the sports teams’ interest to create a great place to live, work and enjoy leisure time, and cities should seek to enhance the level of partnership with their tenants as much as possible.

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