Why Do All Hosts Want to Copy Barcelona?

Nearly every prospective host of the Olympics or the FIFA World Cup claim they are going to transform their cities like Barcelona did for the 1992 Olympics. What was so special about Barcelona? And is it replicable elsewhere?

Barcelona, unlike most hosts, was so successful in making the most out of hosting a major sporting event that it was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal (which is normally awarded to individuals) for its “commitment to urbanism” and mix of “eye-catching landmark projects, small scale improvements to plazas and street corners and the team work between politicians and urbanists

Why was Barcelona so successful?

Neighborhood associations and grassroots organizations had a jointly articulated voice and were powerful enough to negotiate effectively for their needs and long-term vision with the 1992 Games organizers.

In sum, for Barcelona 1992, the Olympics were merely one tool to meet their long term urban and economic development goals.

Source: Altringer (2005). Hosting Mega-events: the Road to the FIFA World Cup 2010. WITS University, October 31, 2005.