How engineers made the Commonwealth Games and its legacy

Enjoying the Commonwealth Games? Grahame Carter says the stunning facilities are showcasing Scottish engineering and should leave a major economic legacy for the sector.

More than 4,500 athletes are taking part in Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games but an even bigger army of engineers have helped develop the stadiums and infrastructure that underpin them.

While the Games themselves cost £575million to stage, the footprint of the Games has reached further and seen greater investment in the City – with changes to transport infrastructure alone costing round £1bn.

Many commentators are already talking about the Games uniting Glasgow and leaving a legacy of goodwill but in reality they will leave a far more valuable legacy; skills and jobs.

Glasgow has a long heritage in engineering but the Games have allowed Scottish workers to showcase engineering skills and create landmark buildings that are being appreciated by the watching world.

One such example of this legacy of innovation is the iconic Hampden Park Stadium (home to the Scottish National Football team). Hampden Park is host to the Track and Field Athletics competitions and the 2014 Commonwealth Games Closing Ceremony. Furthermore, its renovation has secured the stadium’s future as a state-of–the-art sporting facility for years to come.

Hampden has undergone a transformation for Glasgow 2014 – the playing surface has been raised by 1.9 metres to transform the stadium from a football venue into an international-standard track and field facility. The original facility was not suitable for use as an athletics arena as the existing pitch area was considered too small. A warm-up track has also been created at Lesser Hampden next to the main stadium creating additional sporting infrastructure built by skilled engineers and construction workers.

Another example is the Commonwealth Games Village for athletes, which includes major infrastructure works, medical facilities and apartment accommodation specifically designed for athletes. It also includes an Energy Centre which provides hot water for the homes, Emirates Arena and the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome. Once the Games have finished, the site will be redeveloped to create 1,400 family homes with traffic free zones and heating supplied by the Energy Centre. This is an exciting, living legacy showing how communities and sporting facilities can be designed for the future and showcases Scottish design, engineering and skills at their best.

The legacy of international sporting events is now a key part in planning them and justifying the huge investment required. However while the infrastructure is easy to see, and the goodwill impossible to ignore, the impact on jobs, skills and family incomes is arguably the most valuable result.

Glasgow was founded on its engineering industries; its future is now surely more secure as people get to experience the wonderful venues, infrastructure and facilities created for the rest of the world.

Grahame Carter is operations director of Matchtech.