An Evaluation of Legacy from the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games: Post Games Report

This report is the first post games legacy evaluation report for the XX Commonwealth Games it aims to generate learning for ourselves, future bidders and hosts, and to add to the international literature

Executive Summary

  • The XX Commonwealth Games was held in Glasgow between the 23 July and 3 August 2014. It was the largest multi-sport and cultural event ever held in Scotland. Participating athletes represented 71 nations and territories and over 2 billion citizens from across the Commonwealth.
  • The Games were delivered on time, on budget and enjoyed high levels of public support and participation. At the end of the Games, Glasgow 2014 was hailed as "the standout Games in the history of the movement" by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Economic legacy

  • Preparation for, and delivery of, the Games supported a substantial amount of economic activity. Overall the Games is estimated to have contributed, in gross terms, approximately £740 million to Scotland’s GVA, and approximately £390 million to Glasgow’s GVA specifically, over the period 2007-2014. An estimated average of 2,100 jobs per year nationally, and 1,200 jobs per year in Glasgow specifically, were supported over this time period, peaking in 2014.
  • These estimates capture the economic impact up to 2014. There will also be a longer term economic impact from the investment in Games related infrastructure. For example, to date, 45 national and international events have been secured using the Games infrastructure, with an estimated economic impact of over £18.5 million. This refers only to events in Commonwealth Games sports and/or in Games venues. Games related infrastructure, and an enhanced capacity and reputation for hosting events, is likely to have also boosted the economic impact of the wider events sector in Glasgow and Scotland.
  • The Games attracted approximately 690,000 unique visitors. Evidence suggests that tourism displacement experienced by other host nations of major multi-sport events did not occur in Scotland in relation to the Commonwealth Games. At the national level, spending by visitors, volunteers and media associated with the Games and its allied cultural programme Festival 2014 supported, in net terms, the equivalent of 2,137 jobs and contributed £73 million to Scotland’s GVA in 2014. These jobs and GVA supported figures are included in the total estimates above.
  • The economic benefits for Scottish businesses are clear. In terms of contract values, £669 million worth of Tier 1 contracts were awarded. Sixty three per cent of the overall contract value was awarded to Glasgow-based companies and a further 13% to organisations based elsewhere in Scotland. Thus, 76% of overall Tier 1 contract value was awarded to Scottish based organisations.
  • The short term risk identified in the literature of business suffering from displacement during Games time seems to have been averted. The deliberate efforts by Glasgow City Council to promote the city to residents and visitors as ‘open for business’ are likely to have played a part in this.
  • There is also evidence that the Games helped ensure a labour market boost among those who would benefit most, as proposed in the legacy plans. It is estimated that over 11,000 young people across Scotland have benefitted from the range of national and local employability programmes implemented in association with the Games.

Active Legacy

  • Scotland’s infrastructure for high performance sport has clearly been enhanced since 2008. Facilities that are of a standard to host international competition have been developed across a range of sports including swimming, diving, cycling, bowling, hockey and badminton. This has contributed to an increased ability to attract international events and competitions such as the European Sports Championships in 2018.
  • The impact of the Games on elite Scottish sport is clear. Team Scotland fielded their largest team ever with 310 athletes and para-athletes. They won 53 medals – 19 Gold, 15 Silver and 19 bronze, ranking fourth in the overall medal table. This is Scotland’s highest ever medal tally in a Commonwealth Games.
  • Early decisions made to ensure that local communities could access opportunities and venues also appear to have paid off. All venues in Glasgow were open in advance of the Games and venues were open quickly after the Games. There is good evidence of increases in community use and satisfaction with the venues.
  • There is some evidence of a ‘demonstration effect’ of increased interest in sport and exercise. For example, membership of sports governing bodies represented in the Commonwealth Games has increased, particularly for Netball Scotland, Triathlon Scotland and Scottish Gymnastics. Further, attendance at leisure facilities has increased year on year in Glasgow and Scotland since 2010/11.
  • National population statistics also show a recent increase in physical activity in adults (in 2013). This is the first increase for a number of years. Further data are required to determine whether this is the beginning of a positive trend.

Civic Pride and International Reputation Legacy

  • The global audience reached by the Games is estimated to have been 1.5 billion worldwide. Over 35 million people in the UK watched the Games – 61% of all UK TV viewers. In Scotland, 78% of TV viewers watched the Games.
  • Evidence from the Nations Brand Index (NBI) shows that international awareness of Scotland rose from 62% in 2012 to 65% in 2014. Scotland’s score rose overall and on each of six domains measured. This is the first time there has been an improvement in the Scottish data since it was first collected in 2008. It is plausible that the Games contributed to this boost in international reputation. Glasgow’s international profile as a host city of international sporting events has risen since 2010. In 2014, Glasgow was ranked eighth best sports city in the world in the Ultimate Sports Cities Index.
  • The majority of people in Scotland, Glasgow and the East End of Glasgow supported the Games and anticipate long term positive impacts. The Glasgow Household Survey conducted in 2014 showed that 86% of residents felt proud of the city. Just after the Games, 81% of those in the GoWell East Study were supportive of the Games coming to Glasgow, up from 74% in 2012.
  • Over twenty thousand opportunities to volunteer were created by Games partners - at the Games, in the Ceremonies, in the city at Games time and through the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme. Research across different volunteer groups found recurring themes including the positive nature of the experience of taking part, the high extent to which participants felt pride in their role, and the impact of the experience in terms of increased intention to volunteer in the future.
  • East End residents experienced disruption during the Games, mainly due to transport, security and parking arrangements. A total of 72% of the GoWell East respondents reported one or two inconveniences during the Games, but a clear majority (77%) of these said they thought it was worth it for the enjoyment or benefit of the Games.

Cultural Legacy

  • The Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme was unprecedented in scale compared to any previous cultural celebration in Scotland. The programme had two strands: a Scotland wide year long programme called Culture 2014 and a citywide Games time celebration called Festival 2014. The programme contained over 3,000 performances and 3,600 exhibition days and was delivered by over 10,000 artists and arts professionals, supported by almost 4,000 volunteers.
  • The programme attracted a mass audience of an estimated 2.1m attendances and 600,000 participants. The cultural events, therefore, increased the size and reach of participation in the Games.
  • The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme was the first Commonwealth Games culture programme to have a dual city and nation focus and the first to start a year out from the Games. An evaluation of the programme concluded this represents a step change in terms of Commonwealth Games cultural programming and the status of the culture elements within the overall Commonwealth Games event. From 2022, a cultural programme will be part of the formal criteria for judging bids by the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Regeneration Legacy

  • Scotland’s largest regeneration programme, Clyde Gateway, was launched six weeks after the Games were awarded to drive forward the bid commitment that the Games would be a catalyst for regeneration in the East End of Glasgow. This is the area where much of the Games-related investment has taken place. Through Clyde Gateway, there have been significant investments in the area of the East End of Glasgow and Rutherglen including: land remediation; investment in transport infrastructure, public realm and sports infrastructure (including the Emirates Arena and Chris Hoy Velodrome, Tollcross International Swimming Centre); completion of the award winning Athletes’ Village (now a new residential community) and the Dalmarnock Community Legacy Hub.
  • Further, there have been approximately 40 legacy programmes operating in the area. These vary widely in their objectives including improving sport facilities, sports club development, coaching and volunteering programmes, improving the physical environment, active travel, employability and work.
  • The physical improvements have been recognised by the local community. Perceptions of positive neighbourhood change, neighbourhood satisfaction and feelings of neighbourhood safety all improved among the same cohort of East End residents between 2012 and 2015 (the GoWell East Study). In 2012, 55% said the sports facilities in their area were very or fairly good. This rose to 71% in 2014.
  • GoWell East also found that one in ten households in the cohort reported employment gained (either new employment or addition hours worked) related to the Games event.
  • Nonetheless, GoWell East respondents also recognised there was some way to go to progress regeneration in the area. In 2014, 48% reported vacant or derelict buildings as either a slight or serious problem (this compares to 56% in 2012).

Organisational Legacy

  • Audit Scotland identified effective partnership working as one of the key factors that contributed to the Games success. The others were shared vision, clear governance arrangements,clear roles and responsibilities, appropriate seniority of staff in decision making and good information sharing between partners.
  • Other evidence collected by partners also found that there was good partnership working between the four Games partners (Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council, Commonwealth Games Scotland and the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee). This was achieved at both strategic and operational level.
  • The Games also provided an opportunity for some organisations to ‘stress test’ their systems. This included transport and health systems where issues often required a multi-agency approach.
  • All four Games partners actively participated in the Transfer of Knowledge (TOK) from Glasgow 2014 to future Games, including the Gold Coast 2018. This includes over 125 final TOK reports, many key statistics and copies of project documentation.


  • The approach taken by partners to leveraging benefits from the XX Commonwealth Games differed in some ways from previous Commonwealth Games. Legacy was planned for early; informed by evidence; considered at each planning, investment and strategic decision making stage; and embedded in existing policies and plans. For the first time in a Commonwealth Games, legacy was an official part of the Organising Committee’s remit. This approach is likely to be more conducive to securing legacy in a number of areas.
  • The evidence is clear that major sporting events are not a panacea for long running social and economic challenges, and even beneficial short term economic impact is not guaranteed. However, the evidence synthesised throughout the report does find indications of economic, social, sporting and cultural benefits to Scotland and Glasgow at this point, one year on from the Games.
  • Evidence also shows while the focus was clearly on Glasgow, benefits were felt across Scotland. Games visitors stayed in every part of Scotland, cultural events were held across the country, grassroots active infrastructure improvements occurred in each Local Authority area and businesses throughout Scotland benefitted.
  • The challenge will be extending and embedding these benefits to date in Scotland and Glasgow to secure lasting legacies into the future. A concerted and sustained focus by partners, embedding legacy outcomes into long term efforts, will be critical in achieving many outcomes. Final reporting in this evaluation will help assess the extent to which these longer term benefits materialise, a decade on from the baseline year of 2008.


Email: Niamh O’Connor

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