Mega-events, Their Sustainability and Potential Impact on Spatial Development

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The city is owned and used by many, concerns and perspectives are very diverse; short- and long-term interests often conflict. The focus of my theoretical as well as empirical interest is the relation of political, social and economic powers behind the European Capital of Culture (ECC) projects, and their different concepts of long-term sustainability. Long-term sustainability is an increasingly important legacy of the ECC, however the term “sustainability” can be defined in several ways in such projects (considering economic, environmental or social priorities). In my paper, my aim is to make an assessment of the impact of the ECC institution upon the development of cities, focusing on the changes related to new infrastructures (in the broadest meaning of the term). In order to provide adequate facilities for this mega-event, the preparation years are often accompanied by a local construction boom, which can take up various forms such as: new cultural facilities, venues that the event requires (theatre halls, conference centres); new transport infrastructures; new hotels; new traffic policy, building regulations, or reformed land use policy. As the scale of the event becomes bigger and its influence becomes larger, the infrastructural criteria of qualification are enhanced. Although new infrastructural projects are usually very successful in attracting media and public attention - which in fact, is a central, if not the most important goal of mega-events – some cities have to face difficulties in sustaining the new infrastructures after the end of the event. Besides inadequate planning and neglected interest-conflicts, there can be several other weaknesses in ECC projects leading to deficits and problems with viability.