Exclusive: Multi-million pound windfall for UK Athletics after Anniversary Games

Monday, 29 July 2013
By Duncan Mackay

Usain Bolt Sainsburys Anniversary Games July 27 2013July 29 - British Athletics is set for a £9 million ($14 million/€10.5 million) windfall following the success of the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games in the London 2012 Olympic Stadium at the weekend. 

The three days of the meeting, which included the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Diamond League on Friday and Saturday (July 26 and 27) and the Paralympic Challenge yesterday, were all sold out with the events being broadcast live on BBC Television and Channel 4.

"Clearly the ticket sales - where 180,000 plus sold over the three days - that's a major windfall for us in a very difficult economic climate," Ed Warner, the chairman of UK Athletics, told insidethegames.

"It has entirely made our year this year and our year next year on the back of this event.

"We've got to be pleased about that.

"When we grabbed hold of the chance to be in the Stadium this summer - and as you know the bulldozers should have been in, so it was a one-off opportunity - it electrified interest among potential sponsors.

"A lot of sports are struggling to find any sponsors whatsoever and, on the back of this, we were able to bring in Sainsbury's behind the Paralympic programme for the next four years.

"All our sponsors appear very excited about what they've been involved in.

"It's a great platform looking forward."

Allyson Felix Sainsburys Anniversary Games London July 27 2013Triple London 2012 gold medallist Allyson Felix was among the athletes who helped make the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games in the Olympic Stadium such a success

The event was the centrepiece of celebrations to mark one year since the Opening Ceremony of London 2012 and featured many of the stars of the Olympics and Paralympics, including Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis Hill, Jonnie Peacock, Alan Oliveira, David Weir and Hannah Cockcroft.

"If I look at promoting the sport I think it has done one thing across both able-bodied and disability athletics," said Warner. 

"The thing it's done all round is build on last year's enthusiasm and reminded people just what a great time they had following athletics.

"People have had a good time, feedback's been great and we've seen some great athletics."

Olympic Stadium crowd doing MobotCapacity crowds enjoyed themselves at the Sainsbury's Anniversary Games, including paying homage to Britain's double Olympic champion Mo Farah with their impression of the "Mobot"

UK Athletics must now find a venue to hold next year's Diamond League meeting while the Olympic Stadium is reconfigured in time for the 2015 Rugby World Cup and so that Premier League West Ham United can move in as the anchor tenant.

Glasgow's Hampden Park, which is having a track laid in time for the Commonwealth Games, is the favourite but UK Athletics is also investigating the possibility of several temporary sites in London.

But the interest generated by the weekend has left Warner optimistic that the 2017 IAAF and International Paralympic Committee World Championships in the Olympic Stadium will be a success.

"It's all about opportunities seized and -with two World Championships in 2017 - this has proved to us that we can use this Stadium well, have a good response to it and we are out talking to potential commercial partners up to those World Championships," said Warner.

"So, as a showcase for that, it has been incomparable."

Contact the writer of this story at duncan.mackay@insidethegames.biz


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