‘It's going to be pretty special’: Why Sheffield could make millions this year

Sheffield could be quids in thanks to ‘the strongest events programme for more than a decade’ happening in the city this year.

Thursday, 7th April 2022, 6:00 am

A packed calendar of things to do in 2022 will generate up to £24 million for the local economy, it is estimated.

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Bargain ticket prices for UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 matches at Sheffield United’s B...

"It's fantastic for the economy and profile of the city,” said Gary Clifton, major events manager at Sheffield City Council.

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Diane Jarvis of the Sheffield Business Improvement District.

"Years like this don't come around very often, however hard you try, however hard you work. It's going to be pretty special.”

The coronavirus pandemic has meant several events have been squeezed into the same calendar year, including the Women’s Euros and Rugby League World Cup (RLWC).

Matches will be held in Sheffield as part of both home tournaments, which were postponed for 12 months.

Other 2022 events include DocFest, Tramlines and the Fringe at Tramlines and the World Snooker Championship as well as the Sheffield Food Festival, Off the Shelf series and Christmas Lights Switch On.

Sheffield United's Bramall Lane will host matches at the Women's Euros and Rugby League World Cup in 2022. Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty.

Diane Jarvis, head of business operations at the Sheffield Business Improvement District (BID), said: "It’s giving people a reason to come to the city centre.

"It’s not just about the Euros, it’s about having a number of events that cater to all sorts of different visitor groups.”

Mr Clifton, who has been working on large-scale events in the city for 35 years, added: “It's probably the strongest events programme we have had in over 10 years.

"If someone asked me would plan a programme like this I would say 'never, ever'.

Richard Coleman, principal researcher at Sheffield Hallam University's Sport Industry Research Group.

"I'm a bit nervous, but we are an exceptionally good event-hosting city with some exceptionally gifted and talented people, providers and operators."

A 2019 economic survey found the Council's event programme for that year generated about £19 million for the local economy.

This year’s events could make a similar amount, Mr Clifton said, before accounting for the Women’s Euros and RLWC.

Richard Coleman, a principal researcher at Sheffield Hallam University’s Sport Industry Research Group, said up to £5 million could be earned from those competitions.

Gary Clifton, major events manager at Sheffield City Council.

That would mean a potential £24 million boost for the local economy this year.

The Women’s Euros will be held in England throughout July and is set to be the biggest women’s sporting event in European history, based on ticket sales.

Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United, will stage three group-stage matches and one semi-final game in England’s side of the draw, meaning the Lionesses could play in the city.

England’s rugby league side will also play Greece in a group-stage match at Bramall Lane on Saturday, 29 October.

Meanwhile, the English Institute of Sport, Sheffield will host all of the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup Group B fixtures, as well as the semi-finals.

Mr Coleman said: "If you base the England v Greece game on around 20,000 people attending I would expect that to be worth maybe £750,000 in new money.

"With the wheelchair rugby in there as well we are saying about a quarter of a million there.

"You are probably looking at another £3 to 3.5 million for the Women’s Euros in terms of direct expenditure based on estimates of attendances at Bramall Lane for the group games and 28,500 in the semi-final.

"If you factor all that together, my best guess across the rugby and football would be somewhere in the region of £3 to 5 million of new money into the city – money from organisations and people visiting from outside Sheffield.

“I would say that’s probably a conservative estimate. It could well be more.”

Mr Clifton described the Women’s Euros semi-final, which is expected to sell out, as ‘the biggest sporting event’ Sheffield has ever hosted.

He added: "The fact we have got an England game for the Rugby League World Cup is quite a coup because England will only play seven times in the whole tournament if they get to the final.

"We are really proud about that and really excited. It will look fantastic and will get the full BBC platform.”

This week’s British Swimming Championships at Ponds Forge will also generate about £500,000 alone, Mr Clifton said.

Sheffield’s hotels, bars and restaurants are set to benefit the most from a busy calendar, but shops and other businesses could also feel the gold rush.

“There are probably winners and losers,” said Ms Jarvis.

“We generally get positive feedback from a whole host of businesses about the busyness of the city centre.

"That’s what a lot of people are saying to us, they want more events because they recognise it causes more footfall.

"It’s about getting that street-to-store conversion. Definitely businesses would rather a packed events calendar than not at all. It can only be a win-win situation for the city as a whole.”

Footfall has recovered in Sheffield city centre but remains lower than it was before the pandemic, Ms Jarvis said.

“We need a big shot in the arm from a strong events programme.

"It’s really important over the summer to drive footfall and support the local economy.”

More events could be key to the future prosperity of Sheffield and its struggling city centre, added Ms Jarvis.

"Going forward what we do need to see is our events programme grow because we know cities are changing, they are evolving into leisure destinations.

“Events are going to encourage people to come back and enjoy the area, and drive spending.”

Mr Clifton added: “Events are the city's shop window, to ourselves and to our world.”