Stage set for Steel City to show its mettle to millions
They aim to make a 15-to-one return on the investment.
Sheffield City Council chiefs are stumping up about £1m to welcome the Tour de France to the steel city.
But experts predict it will bring £10m of direct economic benefit and £5m worth of global marketing exposure.
The calculations are based partly on the impact of the Grand Départ in the south east of England over two days in 2007.
Marketing Sheffield – part of the city council – is leading the charge with private sector partners to capitalise on the opportunity.
And director Brendan Moffett is leading that peloton of business.
He said: “It is an event of global significance. It’s actually a privilege to be working on something of this scale.
“Other than the World Cup and the Olympics, there’s nothing bigger.
“We have done well from big sporting events in the past, but this could top the lot.
“The challenge is to show people how to make the most of it.”
Stage two of the Yorkshire Grand Départ will pass through Sheffield on Sunday, July 6, entering the city via Midhopestones and taking in High Bradfield, Worrall, Oughtibridge, Grenoside, Hillsborough and the Lower Don Valley before finishing at the Motorpoint Arena.
Highlights of the planned business activity include an International Festival of Business at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield from July 3-5.
It will feature a two-day Sport Technologies matchmaking event that offers local firms the chance to arrange one-to-one meetings with up to 100 bosses of foreign companies.
The focus is on equipment, advanced materials, ICT, health testing, rehabilitation, simulations, nutrition, clothing and footwear.
Also on offer are free meeting rooms for firms hosting a get-together to tap into the excitement. Some 60 slots are available.
Mr Moffett added: “Invite international customers and prospects over to Sheffield, they will come for something like this.”
Meanwhile Meadowhall, the region’s biggest shopping centre, is giving over two of its enormous car parks to fans.
The idea of bike-mad director Darren Pearce, on race weekend the giant mall will install a grandstand and stage a cycling festival set to attract up to 20,000 people.
The aim is for people to shuttle between there and the city centre on yellow trams.
But it’s not all about the big organisations.
Mr Moffett is urging every business to claim a piece of the action.
As a global event with global sponsors, use of official logos and branding is strictly controlled.
But the colour yellow isn’t. Nor is white with red polka dots – as worn by the king of the mountains – or French food, or racing bikes or a host of other concepts which hint at Le Tour without breaking the rules.
Mr Moffett added: “We have got to be very sensitive to the requirements of the official body and their sponsors. We want to retain our reputation as a host for world-class events so we can’t go anywhere near using trademarks but that doesn’t stop you being creative.
“There are some big themes you can use. Stage a cycling race, paint your cafe polka dot, install cycle racks at your hotel or business.
“They are really small expenses that say cyclists are welcome. They then bring their family and stay for a few days, spending their disposable income.
“Think about customers and prospects and get them over here. We will never have a better opportunity and in theory you don’t have to spend much money. You can build an itinerary based on free events.
John Wyke, landlord of the Old Horns pub in High Bradfield, is on the case. The venue is famous for its panoramic moorland views, but come July 6 all eyes will be on the other side of the building when the cyclists and the promotional cavalcade will pass through, heading up the “Cote de Bradfield” on the way into Sheffield.
He said: “I’ve been told to expect 10,000 people in the village over the weekend – which means it’ll be 10 deep on the day.”
He is among villagers in High and Low Bradfield planning a week of events including a hill climb cycle race, farmers’ market, beer festival, family events and camping in a nearby field. Mr Wyke added: “We are backing Le Tour all the way. We are really going to take advantage of everything that we can for that week.”
Martin Maltby set up Don Valley Cycles in Doncaster 20 years ago and has seen sales rise steadily since Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour two years ago. The coming of the Grand Départ has seen road bike sales continue to accelerate.
A keen cyclist himself, Mr Maltby goes on regular training rides for pros – such as Ben Swift – and experienced amateurs.
He is also organising Doncaster Cycle Festival on June 1 featuring seven races.
He said: “With the Tour coinciding with our 20th year, the time was right for us to get involved and organise this community cycling event, backed by the council. We have had a cracking few months – road bike sales have risen and we recently took on an extra member of staff.”