International Sports Federations: Partners in Developing Sport in your City
Smart Cities & Sport interview Jérôme Lacroix, Business Development Manager, International Cycling Union (UCI)
Smart Cities & Sport: What are the benefits for cities of partnering with an International Sport Federation (IF)?
Jérôme Lacroix: Sport events are still the most powerful platform to showcase a city or a region and to contribute in giving them a dynamic image. Having a true partnership will enable the IF to better understand the city strategy and therefore provide a more efficient support to reach city targets. Organising a sport event has to be part of a global plan and be considered as an investment, and building a partnership with an IF is the best way to ensure a long term impact. In this regard, having 2 or 3 events on a 4/5 years period, even if some are smaller events, is more efficient than only one event.
SC&S: What are the benefits for an IF of partnering with a city?
JL: The sport market is extremely competitive, as a lot of events are available to prospective host cities. Establishing a partnership with a city over several years is the most efficient ways for an IF to work. It secures the organisation of several events, ensures a high quality of event with the experience accumulated year after year, and allows the IF to better understand the strategy of a city. As an IF, having a long term relationship around several events is also the best way to imprint our sport in the culture of a city.
SC&S: What are the main challenges that cities and IFs face when it comes to partnering together?
JL: At UCI, our main ambition is to ensure that the event selected by the city fits with the strategy of the cities. We do not want to sell events just to sell events: we want to bring something to the cities. The main challenge for this to happen is to have a very open and transparent communication from the start. Very often, the cities outsource the organisation to a third party, and this can create distance between the IF and the host city.
It is really critical to always maintain communication in order to ensure that the host city is comfortable with the way that the event is organised and ensure the priorities of the host city are aligned with the IF. With the pressured environment of event organisation, these discussions are sometimes intense but it is always better to be transparent. At UCI, we share all information from the start, including license fees, requirements, and milestones. The more you share from the start of the discussion, the easier it is to have an efficient relationship.
SC&S: What are the key success factors to an efficient and effective city/IF partnership?
JL: Transparent communication and open discussions are really the basics. At the UCI, everything is public, including the license fees and the bidding process. It is also important to build business models that allow the host city to have a real return on investment. An event should not be considered only as an expense, but rather as a true investment, both financially and for the image of the city.
SC&S: What are the partnership opportunities that UCI offers to cities?
JL: The partnerships are articulated around two central pillars: events and legacy. We aim at offering the best platform to showcase a city, ensuring that the legacy of the event will bring true added value to the citizens. At UCI, we have the ability to have a lot of different events: indoor or outdoor, open road or circuits, winter or summer, with different types of audiences, and the budget sizes can vary substantially, starting from around €50,000.
Our target with cities is to have 2 or 3 events organised on a 4/5 years period alongside a robust cycling development plan. The UCI teams are available to select the events that fit with the city strategy and to build the cycling development plan. The reward of such a partnership is clearly illustrated with the award of the UCI Bike City Label: a distinction which will indicate to all citizens, tourists and companies, that the city is bike-friendly. This is an important element to improve citizens’ lifestyle, and attract tourism or companies to the city.
SC&S: What has UCI changed in the Bike City Label programme to attract more cities?
JL: The UCI is fully aware that we must bring more than a sports event to a city: indeed, cycling is not only a sport, but a means of transport that can answer a lot of key challenges facing cities today, including traffic jams, public health and environmental concerns. The UCI Bike City label is the recognition of this fact that, for us, the legacy is as important as the event itself. This label allows us to create broader relationships with cities and not simply focus everything on the event. The UCI has a dedicated team, available to work with cities on all Cycling Development programs: they provide benchmark from other countries, and support the cities in the design of their strategy.
A lot of cities have contacted us to get information on this support, and many of the most major cities in the world are currently working on plans to develop cycling. They are very interested in getting more support and methods for success. Through this programme, they also discover that hosting cycling events is a very efficient way to promote cycling and its initiatives. Therefore, the Bike City Label programme has the dual benefit of providing both an increased focus on legacy for cities interested in organising cycling events, and an increased focus on events for cities interested in developing cycling for their citizens.