“Big up to Millennium: we don’t need no Wembley…”
Those might be the words of youTube viral hit and Jay-Z parody Newport (Ymerodraeth State of Mind) but if newly announced plans are enacted Wales will hope to see a lot more top class sport at the Millennium Stadium and beyond in the coming years.
The Ryder Cup may be just three days long but Wales is aiming to use the tournament as a springboard to capture the hosting of a generation of future sporting events. With the eyes of the world on Wales, the principality has launched its first Major Events Strategy to create a co-ordinated and systematic approach to delivering future major events.
In launching the strategy, Wales’ Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones outlined the success of a number of events including the Rugby World Cup in 1999 and this summer’s BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend along with long standing non-sporting events such as the Hay Festival and Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
The Deputy First Minister added "Wales is now delivering the Ryder Cup on behalf of a continent and going forward we will work with Welsh, UK and International federations to realise the huge untapped potential that remains in other sporting events as well as in artistic and cultural genres."
Hosting the Ryder Cup has cost the taxpayer £40m over the last ten years, with more spent on improving the transport infrastructure, but even in a recession, the belief remains that the cost is worth it. Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones refutes the criticism in stating that Wales receives around £35 million a year from golf and the global exposure that the Principality will get during the Ryder Cup will boost this return on investment further.
Jones also revealed that talks are already underway for Wales to try and stage the Uefa Champions League final. With Wales having hosted six FA Cup finals, and set to host Olympic football in 2012 Jones said “We believe that we can very much hold the Champions League final in Wales.”
Cricket is also targeted following the successful hosting of the 2009 Cardiff Ashes test. Paul Russell, Chairman of Glamorgan Cricket underlines Wales’ credentials in stating “From now until 2016, Cardiff will stage more International Cricket than any other city in the UK with the exception of London.”
Alongside ambitions in football and cricket Wales has a number of events already lined up for the coming years. In 2011 both Rugby Union’s Heineken Cup Final and Rugby League’s showpiece ‘Magic Weekend’ will take place at the Millennium Stadium whilst Pembrokeshire is confirmed as hosting the Ironman competition.
To find out more about what Wales is working on, a copy of the Strategy can be found on http://wales.gov.uk/topics/tourism/marketing/majorevents/?lang=en