'This is what we have been waiting for ... 2014 is the year of Glasgow'

NEXT year Glasgow will be in the spotlight as a third of the world's population tune in to see major sporting and music action.

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Gordon Matheson expects 2014 to be "The Year of Glasgow"
Gordon Matheson expects 2014 to be "The Year of Glasgow"

In July, 1.5billion people around the globe will cheer on some of the world's top sporting stars as they compete at the Commonwealth Games.

And in November, 700million music fans globally will settle down in front of their TVs to watch the MTV Music Awards, being staged in the new SSE Hydro Arena.

The prospect of the city hosting two massive events with vast numbers of people looking on would terrify some people, but Glasgow council leader Gordon Matheson can't wait.

He said: "This is the year we have all been waiting for - 2014 is the year of Glasgow. The transformation that has been taking place in the city for the past 20 years or so has been leading to this point.

"It is only because of the renaissance in Glasgow in recent years that we were able to bid to host an event like the Commonwealth Games.

"We are now on the eve of the biggest year for the city in my lifetime."

Mr Matheson bursts with pride when he talks about the city of his birth.

And while he is acutely aware of the problems facing Glasgow in the year ahead, he is determined to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

He said: "The challenges in the city remain, and I am not pretending we don't live in difficult times - because we do.

"There remains disproportionate cuts to the council budget which are hard to manage but we will not allow that to bring the city down.

"There is a buzz about this city in the midst of the longest and deepest economic downturn any of us have experienced. That is what gives us confidence in the future."

For Mr Matheson and his colleagues in the City Chambers, the arrival of the Commonwealth Games will be the culmination of more than 10 years of work.

It was Manchester winning the right to stage the Games in 2002 which persuaded them Glasgow should get in the race.

Mr Matheson says he is determined the global attention the city will receive from the Games and the MTV awards will benefit as many people in the city as possible.

He said: "Glasgow will be viewed by a third of the world's population. It is difficult to overstate just how important an opportunity this is for Glasgow.

"I am determined all the aspirations we as Glaswegians have for 2014 will be realised and more.

"This year will highlight the city and we will show ourselves to the rest of the world in a magnificent light.

"This is a chance in a lifetime and it has brought forward by 20 years the regeneration of Glasgow.

"We are looking at a 60% increase in tourism over the period in the run-up to the Games as a direct result of the exposure.

"The place is going to be absolutely jumping. There will be a cultural festival as well as a sporting festival and we will prove once again how friendly and welcoming we are.

"There is nothing quite like success to breed success, and when a city proves itself to be a winner, investors want to come and that is happening in record numbers.

"There are presently £6billion of investment in the city in developments which are completed, underway or in the pipeline.

"This is an extraordinary achievement at any time, never mind during the current economic climate.

"There is an awful lot going on which positions us on the world stage in 2014, and allows us to use the opportunities which will arise from that to take the city to a new level of development in the years ahead."

Mr Matheson admits he is excited about the transformation of previously rundown areas of the city and the benefits that will have for decades to come.

And he has no fears residents will suffer a sense of anti-climax once the Games bandwagon rolls out of town.

The council boss said: "There has been an enormous investment in events in 2015 and 2016.

"We will be hosting the World Gymnastics in 2015 and the Turner Prize and there will be the opening of the new Southern General Hospital which is costing £842m and will be one of the biggest hospitals in Europe.

"We have events and conferences booked 15 years ahead and recently it was announced Beyonce is performing in the city next year.

"We have every reason to be confident in Glasgow's future."

vivienne.nicoll@eveningtimes.co.uk

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