Gary Bell, Head of Commercial at London Stadium, celebrates the 10th anniversary of the 2012 Olympic Games and talks to us about its impact on the local business community
The golden night of Saturday, August 4, 2012 will never be forgotten. Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford, and Mo Farah entranced a packed, wild London Stadium, each winning gold medals to mark the high point of a remarkable 2012 Olympic Games.
As the UK celebrates the 10-year anniversary of that giddy, magical fortnight – and will also celebrate the 10thanniversary of the incredible 2012 Paralympics at the end of August – we spoke to our partners at London Stadium to talk about the legacy of the Games, and what the future looks like.
From creating 110,000 more jobs across the host boroughs, to regenerating the local communities across East London, to delivering new opportunities for local business, the benefits of the 2012 Olympics are many, and far-reaching.
For the community
At the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is London Stadium. Home to UK Athletics, as well as Premier League football with West Ham United, it has also recently announced that it will host regular Major League Baseball games in 2023, 2024, and 2026. With many of the most famous musical acts also playing huge concerts at the Stadium, it remains one of the world’s biggest multi-purpose venues.
As well as being a world-class venue, the Park carries out a vital role in the community. From social inclusion through to jobs, education, and housing, the greatest legacy of the Games is that the Park continues to regenerate East London.
“The rationale for the Olympics wasn’t all about the sport, but about getting funding to tackle infrastructure problems that had held East London back,” says Gary Bell, Head of Commercial, London Stadium. “We’ve created a wonderful new park which is open to local people, which has been a lifeline for mental and physical health.
“Our research shows that local people consider the investment into the Games as really worthwhile, which is very rewarding. It has also had a massive impact for London on a wider level, with the events such as the World Athletics Championships in 2017 creating massive spikes in value for London.”
The Park exists for both elite athletes and the local community. Covering over 560 acres – the equivalent of 300 football pitches – it is free to enter. “All locals get access to world-class sporting venues,” says Bell. “We have the busiest swimming pool in Europe, with pricing kept in line with the local area to encourage the local community to use it. We also have schools that use it to teach kids to swim. There’s a genuine blend of elite teams using all of the venues, but they are also ring-fenced for schools and the local community to use.”
For the local businesses
Despite being a major global venue, East London’s business community is central to London Stadium’s commercial strategy. “All of our suppliers and contractors are obliged to hit specific levels of East London employment, and that ensures we have high levels of local employment,” says Bell. “Through procurement, we also look to get the right mix of businesses to bid on contracts to ensure good levels of local businesses involved.”
After a successful four years, Eleven Sports Media renewed its partnership with London Stadium in 2021. Our comprehensive partner programme supports London Stadium in implementing and developing partnerships with local businesses. Underpinned by our award-winning matchday technology on Premier League matchdays at West Ham United’s home games, we help local brands utilise the power of sport at a world-class venue.
“The work we do with Eleven enables us to have a really good level of engagement with local SMEs,” says Bell. “They probably wouldn’t ordinarily have the chance to work with a venue of our size or a Premier League club on a partner level, so it’s great that local businesses can profile themselves to huge audiences on matchdays and beyond.
“Eleven are about community, and giving SMEs the chance to grow through a genuine connection with major sports teams and venues. At London Stadium we are about creating new opportunities, and our work with Eleven helps to enable that.”
For the future
While the country celebrates that spectacular summer 10 years ago, the Park looks to the future. Its wide-ranging objectives and goals include delivering 33,000 new homes by 2036, with around 11,000 classed as affordable homes.
“The work done to regenerate the area has been absolutely transformative,” says Bell. “Being able to celebrate 10 years on and look at what’s been achieved is brilliant, but what we’re going to achieve in the future is vital. It’s now about looking ahead to the next 10, 20, 50 years. It’s really exciting to drive more opportunities and to help transform East London.”
A report from Oxford Economics showed that Here East, a tech and innovation hub based at the former Olympic press and broadcast centre, added £700m to the UK’s economic output last year. Opened in 2016, it is home to BT Sport, University College London, and a variety of businesses that supported over 10,000 jobs in 2021.
Over the next three years the likes of BBC, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, V&A, UCL, and UAL’s London College of Fashion will set up sites at East Bank.
“It’s the biggest cultural development in the UK for 150 years,” says Bell. “It is hugely significant not just for the UK, but for the local area. Ensuring that the Park and the London Stadium remain a beacon for the local community is integral to the wider regeneration project.
“London Stadium keeps the eyes of the world on East London. We’re only part way through the regeneration story and our eyes are on the future.”