Special Olympics brought £3m to Sheffield economy

The University research team with Professional Boxer Kell Brook

Special Olympics brought £3m to Sheffield economy

The city received an economic boost of over £3m during last August’s Special Olympics GB’s National Games, according to research by Sheffield Hallam University.

Researchers at the University's Sport Industry Research Centre (SIRC) found the total economic impact on the city reached £3.28m as a result of the four-day spectacle.

The report found that more than 7,500 visitors came from outside the city and accounted for £1.65m of the total impact, with £1.67m being spent on accommodation.

Shopping in the city accounted for £300,000, while £700,000 was spent on food and drink.

Leading the study, Richard Coleman, principal lecturer at SIRC, said: "An economic impact on Sheffield of £3.28m vindicates the decision to bring the Special Olympics GB National Games back to the city and is testament to the desire, time and resources committed by national and local agencies in delivering a wonderful sporting spectacle and celebration of the human spirit.”

Chris Hull, spokesman for Special Olympics GB, said: “We greatly value this report and the key findings that Special Olympics GB and our 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities competing at our National Games provided an additional stimulus to the city of Sheffield in excess of £3 million.

“This is great news for potential future hosting cities of our Special Olympics GB National Games held every four years. 

“Not only can Special Olympics and our athletes provide events which are packed with the very best of human achievement and endeavour but they also give regions around the country a huge boost of energy, pride, inclusion and finance.”

The Special Olympics GB National Games – which are held every four years – was the biggest disability multi-sports event in the country in 2017, with 2,600 athletes with learning disabilities from across England, Scotland and Wales taking part in 20 different sports across a dozen South Yorkshire venues.

This year, Special Olympics will celebrate its 40th anniversary in Great Britain - founded in 1978. 

Councillor Mary Lea, cabinet member for culture, parks and leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: “We were thrilled to host the Special Olympics National Games last summer and it’s great that this research reflects the positive financial impact that the athletes, their families, the spectators and the media attention had on Sheffield.”

Sheffield Boxing legend and Special Olympics ambassador Kell Brook said: “I was thrilled to be a Games ambassador for the event and I am delighted it has had such an impact on the city and so many people’s lives."

Special Olympics GB is a charity and the largest provider of a year-round sport in Great Britain supporting over 10,000 people with intellectual (learning) disabilities. 

Across, England, Scotland and Wales, approximately 27,000 regular sports coaching sessions of at least one hour are delivered locally each year by 150 accredited programmes across 28 different sports.