International research project tackles the long-term merits of "mega-events"

Research news

Monday 27 January 2014

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Academics at Coventry University are leading a new international research project to look at why expensive, large-scale sporting and cultural events often fail to deliver the beneficial legacies that their organisers and supporters promise.

The trans-continental CARNIVAL project is a four year €852,000 undertaking funded by the European Commission (EC), which will critically analyse the management of high-profile, mass participation ‘mega-events’ like the Olympics. 

Dr Terri Byers and Dr Ian Brittain at Coventry University’s Centre for International Business of Sport (CIBS) are leading the project, which will involve over 30 researchers from the UK, Brazil, Germany, South Africa and the USA conducting field work at major sporting and cultural celebrations across the globe.

Researchers will work with organisers, promoters, officials and other stakeholders across industry and government, gathering evidence from previous mega-events and studying forthcoming occasions such as this year’s World Cup in Rio and Mardi Gras Festival in New Orleans.

The team will be looking to uncover the reasons why mega-events have in the past failed to live up to expectations in terms of long-term social and economic impact. Their intention in doing is to help determine how mega-events can be better managed in the future so that legacy benefits can be fully realised on a sustainable and responsible basis. As such, the CARNIVAL project will have wide reaching consequences for agencies bidding for and managing the potential legacies of mega-events.

Dr Terri Byers said:

Mega-events are enthusiastically embraced as a strategy for national promotion, profit generation and re-imaging and the huge costs associated with bidding for and hosting these events is often justified through arguing that they create lasting and sustainable legacies. Unfortunately, in reality, the actual benefits realised are often much less than anticipated.

The global economic crisis has really put the spotlight on what these major events achieve. When you look at the vast amounts of money being spent, governments need to be able to justify to their own populations what the legacy will be.

Our research will ask why potential impacts are not fully realised and will help determine what factors could be used to make the most of the social and economic benefits of mega-events in the long-term.

A meeting of the partners involved in CARNIVAL, in which the scope of the project, the research strategy and methodology will be discussed, is being held the Techno Centre, Coventry University Technology Park on Monday 3 February. 

CARNIVAL is a research project that examines the impact of cultural and sporting ‘mega-events’, including (but not limited to) the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the Olympics, Mardi Gras, Glastonbury and the Rio Carnival.

CARNIVAL will look at the factors that influence successful event legacies: including the bidding/planning preparations, successful event management practices and the implementation of social and economic legacy programmes.

Lasting 4 years from late 2013 to 2017, CARNIVAL will provide an unparalleled opportunity to conduct meaningful, longitudinal and cross-cultural studies of mega-events and their legacies. Policy makers, event management professionals, activists and researchers are invited to follow the project, online or through Twitter @CARNIVAL_COVUNI, where information about up-coming events and publications will be released.Further information available on the CARNIVAL webpage.