Inside the City Chambers

WELL this is it - the year when Glasgow gets a chance to bathe in the world spotlight.

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In July, thousands of athletes will descend on the city to compete in the 20th Commonwealth Games.

It will be only the third time the extravaganza has visited Scotland with Edinburgh hosting the Games in 1970 and 1986.

Glasgow's journey to becoming host city began 12 years ago when councillors watched Manchester stage the event and thought "we could do that".

And this year we will.

But that seemed anything but certain when then council leader Steven Purcell travelled to Sri Lanka in November 2007 with First Minister Alex Salmond to hear the result of the crucial vote.

The decision to trust Glasgow with staging a competition costing an eye-watering £288million was greeted with understandable delight.

Mr Purcell warned: "We've struck gold for Glasgow, but the hard work starts from here. This is not about politicians taking glory, or about the sporting world coming to Glasgow on its own.

"It's about making sure there is a lasting legacy. A legacy for the people of the East End of the city who will benefit from first-class housing, retail and leisure developments in a city that's been crying out for that kind of change."

Now with just months to go before the opening ceremony, much of what Mr Purcell demanded should happen, has happened.

The new council-owned sporting venues are built and open for business.

And millions of pounds has been spent upgrading and expanding existing sports centres.

In the East End, a new state-of-the art village has been built to house the athletes and officials.

But while the bricks and mortar necessary to accommodate the Games are in place, much has still to be done to ensure the success of what is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Mr Salmond said when the decision to award the event to Glasgow was announced: "We will make these Games the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen."

The city's elected representatives are already excited about what 2014 has in store.

Council leader Gordon Matheson is looking forward to showcasing Glasgow in front of a worldwide TV audience of 1.5billion people.

With the MTV Awards being held in the city in November, he insists it is the Year of Glasgow.

He said: "It is difficult to overstate just how important an opportunity this is."

In July the sport will be important but it will be the legacy of the Games which will mark just how successful they have been.

vivienne.nicoll@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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