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Glasgow 2014

With less than nine months to go until the opening ceremony, the preparations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games have reached the home straight. We speak to members of the top team in charge of organising the Games as well as the team leaders responsible for the two most ambitious projects – the 35-hectare athletes’ village and the conversion of Hampden Park from a football stadium to a world-class athletics venue for the Games.

Published in Sports Management 2013 issue 4
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Chris Hoy retired in April 2013, but remains an ambassador for Glasgow 2014
Chris Hoy retired in April 2013, but remains an ambassador for Glasgow 2014

David Grevemberg,

Chief executive,

Glasgow 2014

David Grevemberg
David Grevemberg

Could you describe your personal journey in sport so far?
I grew up in inner city New Orleans, in a neighbourhood which was 85 per cent African American. The city is completely sports mad and one of the things that was obvious to me from a young age was the power that sport has in bringing people together. Sport was – and still is – a catalyst for empowerment and social change in the city in so many different ways.

The combination of me being an international level athlete (freestyle wrestling) and my mother being a social worker and very much involved in civil rights and social justice issues gave me a great insight to it all. I think that is reflected in the way I practice and approach sport today. For me, sport has always been about building friendships. I very much identify with the ideology of “respect everyone, fear no one”.

What was your first job in sport?
After a career-ending knee injury in 1994, I was given the opportunity to work with the US Olympic committee in the grants and planning department. I learned about high performance sports planning and was later given the opportunity to develop the high performance plan for the US Paralympic team in the run up to the 1996 Atlanta Games. At the time the Paralympic movement was very much emerging and was still defining itself. By that I mean that it was still figuring out whether it was a disability movement or a sports organisation. It was a very interesting time and a very defining time for me personally as the message we decided to go with was that if we truly believe that we are an elite sport movement, then the athletes themselves need to believe they are part of an elite sports programme.

What brought you to Glasgow?
Following the Atlanta Games, in 1997, I started to do some work for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and two years later (in 1999) I was appointed the sports director of IPC. That involved a move to Bonn, Germany where the new HQ for the organisation was being established – in fact I was one of the first permanent IPC staff members. I ended up staying there for 11 years and worked at a number of Paralympic Games, Commonwealth Games and World Championships.

After the 2008 Beijing Games I decided to try something new and Glasgow particularly appealed to me. It was the ambition of the city and the way it was at the crossroads of where the Commonwealth movement was – and the real opportunity to do a Games in a completely different way.

How would you describe the Glasgow games?
We want to see Glasgow 2014 as the ‘people’s games’. As part of that approach we’ve been careful not to try and be something we’re not. We want to get the scale of things right – we’re not the Olympic Games, after all.

We’ve worked very closely with the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) and various client groups to define the service levels to make sure we get it just right for the scope and scale of a Commonwealth Games. Also, at the heart of our plans is the aim to be a ‘youthful Games’.

The Commonwealth has 2.3 billion citizens, of which 1.2 billion are young people under the age of 24. So in terms of the Commonwealth, we’ve looked to not only take that inspiration and excitement but take it to another level and really be empowering to young people to “be the Commonwealth” and “be the Games”.

The official tartan of the Games was designed by a pupil at the local Shawlands Academy, while the official mascot – Clyde – was the idea of a 12-year-old schoolgirl called Beth Gilmour from Cumbernault. These are stories which have already made Commonwealth Games history and are inspiring for people of all ages.

The youthfulness runs across all aspects of the Games – for example the young volunteers we’ve enlisted, the young workforce initiatives we’ve put in place with the construction projects and the apprentices we’ve recruited as part of the workforce. We have young people delivering these Games.

Ty Speer,

Deputy Chief Executive,

Glasgow 2014

Ty Speer
Ty Speer

Could you describe your career so far and your journey to Glasgow 2014?
I started as an intern at Octagon, a sports marketing agency outside Washington DC. I spent many years in the agency business before being transferred to Octagon’s Sydney office in Australia, where I worked on major events.

The Olympics were a big chunk of Octagon’s work and that’s why I went to Australia, to build up an Olympic-based major events business in that market.

I then transferred down to Melbourne and ran the commercial programme for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne for three years. I then had an opportunity to come to the UK and become director of client services for London 2012. I spent five years overseeing all of the sponsorship delivery at the London Olympics – before joining the Glasgow 2014 team shortly after the 2012 Games.

What are your responsibilities as
deputy CEO at Glasgow 2014?
My role has two or three fixed pieces and quite a lot of variable pieces. The core responsibility is to oversee the commercial side of the Games, so private sector fundraising through sponsorship, ticketing and taking care of our products and merchandise are all in my patch. I also oversee our ceremonial portfolio; the opening and closing ceremonies, our festival programme delivery and the Queen’s Baton Relay.

The rest of it is a somewhat loose brief. As my title suggests, I deputise for David [Grevemberg, CEO] on pretty much anything he needs me to. Also in the mix there’s some planning work that I support, there’s quite a lot of stakeholder work, with the government in particular, and I also do some work with the various forms of media.

Could you describe how the organising committee works?
The complexity of what an organising committee of an event this size and scale has to do is significant and it’s certainly in excess to the time we have!
Normally, if you listed out the work that needs doing, you’d give it more time, so we’re constantly trying to compress work into a tight time and space. It puts enormous value on creating a business that’s good at talking to itself and has good internal communication.

As part of that, for better or for worse, we’re a very meeting-rich business. We’re intensely interdependent, meaning that there are very few things that we do where a single team is entirely responsible for an outcome. There’s a lot of “have you talked to them” and “what are you doing to complement that”. Trust comes to it a lot too, because you have to trust that somebody else in the business is thinking about your needs, just like you’re thinking about your needs and you’re thinking about theirs.

A successful organising committee has clear planning targets, clear outcomes, it communicates well and all of its teams/components trust that nobody is in it for their own little outcome, but that every part of it is in it to deliver a great final product – a successful Games.

How strong is the Commonwealth Games as a brand?
Rather than being brand-driven, I think our sponsors and commercial partners see the Commonwealth Games as event-driven and location-driven. In fact, there are very few one-time sports events which come to a market and say they are absolutely a brand-led, commercial property – I think the Olympics and Wimbledon are the only ones.

So rather than companies wanting to have the Olympic rings on their marketing, our sponsors and partners want to join us because they want to be part of a major happening. I think they are more interested in capturing people’s attention over a long period of time.

Greg Warnecke,

Head of sport,

Glasgow 2014

Greg Warnecke
Greg Warnecke

What is your role at Glasgow 2014?
As head of sport I’m responsible for planning and facilitating all of what you would call the “endpoints” – to make sure the athletes will be able to perform at their very best on the field of play during those 11 days next year.

I see my job as being the champion for all the athletes. My team and I need to be able to make sure we can educate our Organising Committee colleagues on the technical requirements of each sport as well as the specifications of each international federation.

Also, we need to be aware of the unique requirements of the athletes themselves. An athlete competing in an aquatics discipline will have very different needs to an athlete in wrestling.

So it’s everything from understanding the habits and demands of each sport, working with the requirements and the expectations of the athletes and also the ability to take that in to an organising committee perspective. That can be quite challenging.

What are those challenges?
The biggest challenge for me is to achieve integration – to make sure that all 17 of our sports will get equal exposure and attention. We hear some people talk about major sports or minor sports and we try get rid of that language in a Games environment because we have to do 261 medal events, including 22 integrated para-sport medal events which is the largest in any Commonwealth Games.

Every medal will be won by an athlete who’s been working hard to achieve success. Every sport is equal and I think the biggest challenge is to make sure our internal team – as well as the press and media – will be eager to showcase all 17 Commonwealth sports. It’s a challenge but also a great opportunity.

Do you work with the organising committee’s other departments?
We work very closely with all departments. We’ve just gone through what we call “venue-isation” – a typical Games jargon. It means venue familiarisation and includes a programme of on-site training and induction jointly held with venue management and stakeholders. Our first phase of “venue-isation” took place within the sports team and now we’ve embedded the teams working with the venues and security. So all three are now working together in a close-knit group.

We also have a number of different internal management forums where we work together with a number of different organisational groups which come together to be able to make decisions. One example of these, at board level, is our Athletes’ Advisory Committee – chaired by Rhona Simpson, Scotland’s most capped hockey player. Her presence means that we have an athlete representative on the board.

Will your role change during the Games?
It will become one of communication, command and control – a typical Games-type structure where I will spend, unfortunately, most of the Games sitting in a room full of television screens, inside a sort of mission control. I will be relying on my team to be able to deliver all the plans across the various arenas we have; the fields of play, the village, the sport information centre and the Games hospital.

A friend of mine said: “oh, I’ll get to see you on the TV,” and I said no, if you see me on the TV that means something’s gone really badly wrong. So my role is very much in the background – but my team will be visible.

Suzanne McCormack,

Development manager,

Hampden Park

Suzanne McCormack
Suzanne McCormack

What’s your background?
I started as an architectural draftsperson and went on to work for a practice in Glasgow which specialised in stadium design. The first football stadium I worked on was Hull KC. After a stint in Australia, I returned to the UK and worked on the construction of the London 2012 velodrome, where I got the taste for working on a large sports event.

The timing of it all then worked out fantastically – soon after we completed the velodrome I took up a position with the Commonwealth Games and returned to Glasgow.

What is your day to day role?
My primary role is to make sure the conversion of Hampden Park from football to athletics and back to football goes to plan. To do that involves the management of various consultants and expertise to make sure all that information gets co-ordinated and delivered to the appointed architects, project managers and structural engineers – and also to co-ordinate it all back to the stakeholders. We don’t own the stadium so we need to feed that back to Hampden Park and Queens Park Football Club to ensure their asset is looked after. So it’s an end to end solution.

What are your biggest challenges?
Bringing all the small bits together and making sure all aspects of the projects are co-e could install the greatest track in the world but if we don’t have the right timing and scoring equipment then we can’t hold an event.

Challenge wise we’ve also had some major deadlines to hit – appointing consultants and getting the right architects on board. We only recently got on site (the heavy equipment moved in to the stadium in late November), so probably the biggest challenges lay ahead – which include the delivery of the track. The last game to be played at Hampden was a Queens Park game on 23 November so we had to wait until that was played to get our team in.

All our preparatory work has been designed so that we hit the ground running. All of the designs were ready and the materials procured so that when we got in, everything was ready to be carried in and get started.

How do you work together with the organising committee?
We have weekly project team meetings. Internally I work as part of the development team so we meet on a weekly basis to make sure we’re all doing the same thing from a development point of view.

We then have a weekly project team meeting with all who are involved on the Hampden project. This includes the venue operating and the technology teams. We also need to keep our partners and stakeholders informed so we have regular steering group meetings with the Scottish government, Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Life and Queens Park Football Club. Projects like this are more about people than anything else.

A key vision of Glasgow 2014 is to be athlete-centred. How is that integrated in the Hampden project?
We’ve worked closely with the sports team on the approach we’ve taken to ensure the athletes are taken into consideration at every step.

The design of the athletics venue will help with that a lot. The warm up area couldn’t be any closer to the competition track so the athletes have only a short distance to go from warm up to competition. Once the athlete turns up from the village to the track, there’s no hindrance to them. They can enter the “zone” and not worry about how access to a facility works or that they have to wait around for something.

Is it an asset to have people in the team who’ve previously worked on major sporting events?
It is highly beneficial but I think there needs to be a balance. You need experience but you also need people who know Glasgow. Take transport – a person who’s worked on a major event knows how to organise the buses so they leave and arrive in a way that the athletes don’t have to sit waiting on a bus at either end. But you also need somebody to tell you how long it will actually take to navigate Glasgow from A to B.

The heavy machinery moved into the 
stadium in November to start work
The heavy machinery moved into the stadium in November to start work

Juliet Thorne,

Village Resident ,

Services Manager

Juliet Thorne
Juliet Thorne

What’s your background?
I’m a former swimmer and reached national trials level – although never made it to Team GB – before my career came to an end when I was 19. After spending a few years as an operations manager for airport operator BAA, which taught me how to deal with movement of large numbers of people, I applied and secured a job working on the athletes’ village at London 2012. I started work at the Olympic Village about 18 months prior to the Games and worked there throughout the Games. At London I did pretty much exactly what I do now – although you could say it was a smaller role in a larger village!

What is your day to day role?
We split the village in four different areas and I’m responsible for one of them, resident services. Some of the services are the obvious, essential ones – power, light, water – the rest are all the things that make the athletes’ stay at the village a little bit special.

At the moment my role is all about planning for the village opening on 8 July. Within the village team there is four of us, each with their own responsibilities and areas of work. We work incredibly closely and have an integration together as there is no single part of the operations within the village which could be done by one person.

What is the best part of your job?
The most interesting aspect of my job is adding all those nice touches which will hopefully make a real difference and create a home from home type of environment and allow athletes to perform at their very best.

I’ve also enjoyed seeing the village being built. When I arrived about a third of it was still in the laying down the foundations stage and the buildings hadn’t risen from the ground. Walking around it today all the accommodation has been built and parts of it have been nearly completed.

What have been the biggest challenges with the athletes’ village?
The procurement of all the specialised service providers and making sure we find the right people and companies at the right price is a challenge. The nature of the Commonwealth Games is that there are always pressures to make sure money is spent wisely.

To give you an idea of the scale of the procurement challenge, during Games time we will have around 2,700 people working in the village, but only 50 will be employed directly by Glasgow 2014. The rest will be made up of contractors (catering, security, housekeeping etc) and volunteers. The challenge is to grow the team with the best people and then to integrate them and to make sure they all work towards the common goal of making the village the best it can be.

We are doing a big recruitment drive at the moment and it’s about finding the very best people to come and help us with that and ensure they are on board quickly and are up to speed.

Hampden Park

When it opened, Hampden Park was the world’s largest stadium. In 1937 a total of 149,415 people packed into the venue to see Scotland play England in a football international. Since then it has undergone two redevelopments, but none as ambitious as the one it will see prior to the Glasgow 2014 Games.  The entire playing surface will be raised by 1.9 metres – to a level above the first eight rows of seats – as part of converting the stadium from a football venue into an international-standard track and field facility.

A warm-up track and jump areas will be created next to the stadium at Lesser Hampden, with secure, direct access to the main stadium. Further improvements will be carried out at both Hampden and Lesser Hampden, leaving a sporting legacy after the Games.

Hampden will be transformed into a first class athletics venue during the Games
Hampden will be transformed into a first class athletics venue during the Games

Athletes’ Village

Set in Glasgow’s East End, the purpose-built, low carbon village is at the heart of one of Europe's largest regeneration areas and is Scotland’s first large-scale carbon neutral housing development. It will be home to 6,500 athletes and team officials for the duration of the Games. The village will offer an exclusive retail area, recreation area, dining hall, medical facility and other amenities for the use of the athletes and officials. The athletes' village site is being developed by Glasgow City Council with City Legacy, a private-sector consortium which will build the first 700 units for the Games. After the Games, the village will leave a lasting legacy as 700 homes will be available – 300 for private sale and 400 affordable houses for rental.

The village is located on Glasgow’s east side
The village is located on Glasgow’s east side
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