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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 October 2006, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
Sport events 'bring few benefits'
Winning Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard at the 2006 FA Cup final
Six FA Cup finals have been held at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium
An academic has cast doubt on claims that major sporting events bring long-term benefit to the Welsh economy.

Calvin Jones will tell a conference in Cardiff that there is no evidence that giving Wales a higher profile leads to more people visiting the country.

In recent years Wales has hosted six FA Cup finals, the Rugby World Cup and the Wales Rally GB.

But Welsh Enterprise Minister Andrew Davies said there was clear evidence sports events had boosted the economy.

Millions of pounds have been spent in Wales during major events such as the 1999 Rugby World Cup, Heineken Cup finals and the football FA Cup finals, play-off finals and League Cup finals Cardiff has held while Wembley is being rebuilt.

There's very little evidence at all that things like stadia and major events make a real difference in the long-term to development of regions or cities
Calvin Jones, Cardiff Business School

Wales is also due to host the 2010 Ryder Cup and an Ashes cricket test in 2009, which are expected to bring thousands of visitors for the events.

Perceived wisdom has been that in the longer-term people will return to Wales as a result.

On the Ryder Cup 2010 website, First Minister Rhodri Morgan wrote that it "will not only bring millions into the Welsh economy but also develop the nation's image as a business and cultural centre and put Wales on the global map".

'Extra people'

But Dr Jones, of Cardiff Business School, argued that the benefits of such events lasted only a matter of weeks and had been given undue economic significance.

Dr Jones said: "The economic case has been proven to some degree for the short-term expenditure benefits.

Ian Woosnam with 2006 Ryder Cup
The 2010 Ryder Cup is expected to boost Wales' economy

"So, yes - we will get extra people coming to Wales for something like the Ryder Cup.

"The problem comes when you try to say that longer term economic outcomes are benefited by these major events.

"There's very little evidence at all that things like stadia and major events make a real difference in the long-term to development of regions or cities."

Dr Jones' claims were contradicted by the enterprise minister, who said there was clear evidence many people returned to Wales after attending sporting events.

We can quite clearly track the amount of leisure visitors that will return because they've been to a sporting event
Jason Harding, St David's Hotel and Spa, Cardiff

Mr Davies said: "We know talking to hoteliers there are a lot of repeat visits.

"It's also about raising the profile - the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff we know has changed the impression of Wales as a modern, vibrant country."

Cardiff Chamber of Commerce chair Russell Goodway said repeated major events had raised Wales' profile.

He said: "You cannot rely on there being a legacy from a single event but what the Rugby World Cup has done, what FA Cup finals have done and what the Ryder Cup certainly will do is it raises Wales' game in terms of the type of event that it can attract.

"These are global events that give a global profile to Wales - it isn't enough just to attract one event and think that's going to have a 10-year legacy, you have to keep renewing that experience."

Jason Harding, general manager of the St David's Hotel and Spa in Cardiff, also disagreed with Dr Jones' research.

He said: "We can quite clearly track the amount of leisure visitors that will return because they've been to a sporting event.

"They've been with us, enjoyed their stay and want to come back again."




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