Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games legacy: final evaluation report April 2018

This evaluation report of the Commonwealth Games 2014 legacy summarises previous findings and sets out new findings since the last report in 2015.

Chapter 2: Overall Lessons

The Glasgow 2014 experience has generated important learning about hosting international multi-sport events and how to plan for, and deliver, legacy. As set out in the previous evaluation reports, legacy is not 'automatic' or inevitable, rather hosting major events can be used as a 'catalyst' for what governments and partners want to achieve. 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 this, and previous, reports suggests with the right partnerships, momentum and investment positive economic, social and cultural benefits are possible. Crucially, in the case of the XX Commonwealth Games, focus was given to embedding legacy aspirations and activities in longer-term strategies nationally and locally. Importantly though, progress depends on this not being merely 're-packaging', but rather clearly raising the level of ambition and pace. Further, there were explicit plans to create measurable and visible legacies in advance of the event itself. [7]

Over the period 2009-2017 there were a total of 60 legacy programmes and over 80 supporting legacy projects at national level in Scotland. These were developed and delivered under four broad themes; Flourishing, Active, Connected and Sustainable. At a city level, a programme of over 80 GCC led legacy projects and over 400 community-led legacy projects was developed and delivered under six similar broad themes; Prosperous, Active, Inclusive, Accessible, Green and International. These have morphed and changed over time in response to evidence, learning and experience.

The legacy programmes in Scotland included both the scaling up and/or expansion of existing policies and programmes, alongside some new programmes specifically developed and launched for Glasgow 2014. Some policy areas in Scotland used the Games as a catalyst or mobiliser for policy aims that were being pursued to provide more momentum or pace. An example of this is the long-term regeneration of part of Glasgow's east end led by Clyde Gateway Urban Regeneration Company ( URC). For many programmes and projects the longer-term aim was to mainstream into existing provision. An example of this was the use of Community Benefit Clauses within procurement contracts to ensure local labour benefitted from employment opportunities.

From Glasgow's perspective the XX Commonwealth Games and its legacy aspirations can be seen as an important juncture in the long term journey for the city. [8] Glasgow has a history of delivering cultural events including the Garden Festival in 1988 and the City of Culture in 1990 that forms part of its history of regeneration and renewal. The XX Commonwealth Games has been the most ambitious of these. The next major event is already well into planning – Glasgow, along with a number of other local authorities across Scotland, is co-hosting the new 2018 European Championships with Berlin.

'One direct effect of the games is that Glasgow's journey to reinvent and regenerate itself has taken a significant change of gear. Glasgow has moved into the big league of cities around the world that are willing and able to play host.' (Professor Ken Gibb) [9]

There are, of course, significant risks in taking on such a major event. The key concern raised in the literature on events include the potential for leaving behind 'white elephants', allied to the long term use, or non-use, of infrastructure by the community and for other major events. A further concern is the potential negative, or disruptive, effects on the host community. Careful thought and planning went into mitigating the key risks for XX Commonwealth Games and how to maximise the potential benefits of hosting. The need for careful risk management and benefits planning was heightened with the beginning of the financial crash which occurred in the period between Glasgow submitting its bid to host the Games in May 2007 and the awarding of the event to Glasgow on the 9 th November 2007, followed by global recession during most of the pre-Games period.

For the XX Commonwealth Games, most of the venues were in place at the time of bidding and this clearly reduced the overall financial risk. The approach taken by partners to completing the infrastructure required for the Games was also important. Venues and housing were planned and developed with their end-use and ownership already agreed, rather than being developed for the Games with post-Games arrangements being decided at a later stage. This had been the case for athletes' villages and sports venues for major events in other cities. There were deliberate decisions that new and refurbished Games venues would be multi-sport venues that could both host major events and provide opportunities for the local community.

Potential hosts also need to consider the opportunity costs of spending the funds in a different way, in particular whether major event delivery is likely to result in 'additionality' for a city or nation. This too was a major theme for Games partners, including aspirations around legacy. It was crucial that legacy aspirations were clearly understood and articulated collectively by Games partners so everyone was pulling in the same direction. Audit Scotland recognised the achievements of partners in collective planning for legacy at local, city-wide and national levels. [10]

That said, expectations about what a major event can deliver also need to be realistic and carefully managed. The early, and subsequent, evidence reviews conducted to support legacy development highlighted that this was particularly the case around any ambitious claims for a long-term economic legacy and a population-wide physical activity legacy. An honest assessment of what can be directly achieved by hosting a major events and what might be possible with the right support or additional investment is critical. [11] , [12]

For the XX Commonwealth Games there was an explicit aim from the outset to ensure the Games legacy had a national reach beyond the immediate host areas so that all of Scotland benefitted. A national network was established by the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives and Senior Managers ( SOLACE) bringing together all of Scotland's 32 Local Authorities in the lead up to the Games and beyond. A Local Authority Legacy Lead Network played a vital role in cascading the opportunities arising from national programmes, but also in developing local legacy plans, and maximising the use of legacy branding and funding opportunities. The Glasgow 2014 experience demonstrated that a national legacy branding and programme delivery is possible.

The overall leadership and governance of legacy work was critical to the success of the Games and legacy nationally and in Glasgow. Two legacy boards, one national and one city-focused, worked to agreed sets of legacy outcomes and expectations, but also created the space for partners to develop their own ideas and programmes. This required a balance between upfront clarity on the common outcomes partners were trying to achieve, while allowing partners some latitude to try new things. Games partners played a role in empowering and motivating others to focus on legacy. Further, cross-party political support and commitment was helpful nationally and locally.

Many have acknowledged the breadth and depth of partnership working across public, private and third sector agencies that made the Games themselves a success and that was commonly a feature of legacy programmes and projects. The legacy of relationships developed for 2014 has been crucial in planning for the 2018 European Championships.

'Partnership working was particularly successful. Partners had a shared vision, strong commitment, clear roles and responsibilities, appropriate seniority and continuity of staff and they shared information effectively'. Auditor General, 2015 [13]

Working with and mobilising others across funding organisations, the third and private sectors was vitally important for the successful delivery of the event and the legacy programmes. With a limited budget, aligning legacy efforts with other initiatives and leveraging benefits through existing commitments was critical. There are a number of successful examples from the XX Commonwealth Games experience including the relationships with charitable partners UNICEF, Sport Relief, BBC Children in Need and Spirit of 2012. Further information is available at:

From the outset there was also a clear commitment to being both a sporting and cultural event. The Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme was unprecedented in scale with national and local programming and events. It had two strands; a Scotland wide year long programme called Culture 2014 and a citywide Games time celebration called Festival 2014. This is in line with the theory around major events benefits sets out the potential for both a 'demonstration' effect and a 'festival' effect. A systematic review [14] of the evidence on the physical activity legacy created by hosting identified that a 'demonstration effect' might be best harnessed to target current or lapsed participants to encourage more frequent involvement. For those who are currently sedentary or 'pre-contemplative' the review found that encouragement to consider involvement in physical activity could be fostered by a 'festival effect' in a celebration that transcends purely sport.

Particularly worthy of note is the considerable effort required if there is a desire to reach all communities of interest and those facing actual and/or perceived barriers to participation. Glasgow 2014 examples of programmes that aimed to reach particular groups included the use of Community Benefit Clauses in Games contracts, the Volunteer Pot for those who needed resources to participate, the Host City Volunteer Programme, the Active East Project and Rugby Scotland's 'Sport for Change' programme for young people with learning disabilities. Further information is available at

During and beyond Glasgow 2014 there was also a clear and explicit effort to engage young people in legacy programmes. The learning from these programmes is shaping the programming for the Year of Young People in Scotland 2018 and the 2018 European Championships. Examples of national programmes from Glasgow 2014 include the Host Broadcaster programme, Digital Commonwealth Programme and the 33Fifty Youth Leadership Programme. Again, details are available at Within Glasgow, a wide range of curricular activity was organised by Education Services, much of which is being replicated for the 2018 European Championships.


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