THE Commonwealth Games in Liverpool – how great does that sound? I was pleased to hear that our city will officially bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2026. As someone who has spent large chunks of his life working and living in Manchester, I know first-hand the incredible impact that a major sporting event such as the Commonwealth Games can have upon a place. Merseyside can already class itself as an established global sporting destination, with two Premier League Football clubs, a world-famous racecourse and two Open Championship golf courses to name but a few of its highlights. However, successfully staging the Commonwealth Games in Liverpool would catapult it on to the world sporting stage and cement its reputation as an international city for years to come. If we were to host the Games, there’s no doubt in my mind that attendances would be at an all-time high. People here come out in their thousands for all manner of public events and would probably fill all the seats themselves, regardless of the rest of the country or indeed the Commonwealth! The economic benefits could also be immeasurable and a catalyst for growth that spreads well beyond the city limits, as Manchester’s support for our bid demonstrates. If and when Liverpool is granted host city status, we should feel an almost immediate ‘feel-good’ impact in terms of investor confidence and property prices as companies and individuals become buoyed by the decision and want to be part of the city’s bright future. The run-up to such a huge event can be a difficult time for any location, as organisers of the World Cup in South Africa and the Olympics in Rio have discovered, but again I think we can approach this period with great confidence, leveraging our recent track record with Capital of Culture, the Three Queens, IFB and so on. It should therefore be a time when Liverpool is framed in a bubble of positivity, with plenty to look forward to and a sense of great things to come. That kind of confidence is invaluable for businesses who might be considering expansion or relocation and would make us a safer proposition than many of our competitors. A report into the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 showed that the city’s economy benefitted directly to the tune of £100m. As a truly multicultural city with a window on the world and an established global brand, I have every faith Liverpool could not only replicate but comfortably improve upon that return. Another feature of the Glasgow event was the level of Holyrood government investment that was given to the Games, reducing the burden of risk on the city’s taxpayers. Reports suggest Liverpool may have negotiated a similar level of Whitehall involvement, which must be seen as a coup for everyone who lives and works here and again makes the city region an even stronger proposition for inward investment over the next decade. The starter pistol has only just been fired but it’s hard not to feel like Liverpool is already among the leading pack. We have worked so hard to get to this point and we will hopefully time our run to perfection. Only time will tell, but if we can pull together as a city region, we should be there or thereabouts when we cross the finish line in September 2018. We Must Put Futurist Behind Us I’m not going to wade into the debate over the regeneration of Lime Street – there have been strong, passionate arguments on both sides and it appears the latest Court of Appeal decision has now sealed the fate of the development once and for all. In the wider interests of the city, it seems all we can do now is look forward and ensure that Lime Street returns to being an area where people actually want to spend time working, shopping, eating or sleeping. The area has been in the doldrums for far too long and in its current state it is frankly a blight on the city landscape, offering the most inhospitable and inaccurate welcome to visitors arriving in Liverpool by rail. Whether you like the new scheme or not, I think it’s fair to say that any outcome will be an improvement on the last decade or more. Of course, the demolition of the former Futurist is the biggest hammer blow for many conservationists, including myself, but the city must work together now to ensure it’s not entirely in vain and that tangible gains are made from this truly unwelcome loss.