A city-wide sporting event, a mass-participation 5km road race and a triathlon are just some of the events which could be coming to Stoke-on-Trent next year.
Stoke-on-Trent was awarded the prestigious title in July by The Association of European Capitals and Cities of Sport (ACES Europe), a not-for-profit organisation based in Brussels which is responsible for awarding the titles of European Capital, City, Town and Community of Sport.
Research into previous European Cities of Sport (both in the UK and internationally) has shown the type of benefits the award can bring. When Logorono, in Spain, was European City of Sport in 2014, for example, the economic impact was estimated at ?44.5million, while the city also attracted major sporting events and benefited from increased tourism.
Judges who visited Stoke-on-Trent said they were unanimous in their decision to award the title to Stoke-on-Trent after being impressed by the passion and commitment shown to regenerate the city over the coming years, with sport and health placed firmly at the heart of the plans. They also praised the successful staging of the UK Corporate Games, which saw thousands of competitors from companies across the country compete in a range of sports at venues across the city in June.
In total, the city council has set aside up to £3.5 million to deliver the project and make it a real long-term success with a strong legacy post-2016, in terms of engagement and participation.
And discussions are already taking place to see which major sport events and conferences could be held in the city during the course of 2016.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council led the bid to become a European City of Sport and was supported by 12 of its partner organisations, including Stoke City and Port Vale football clubs, Staffordshire Football Association, the City of Stoke-on-Trent Swimming Club, Staffordshire University, YMCA North Staffordshire and the countywide partnership Sport Across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
Gian Lupattelli, president and founder of ACES Europe, said: "We have been extremely impressed to date with Stoke-on-Trent's passion and commitment to physical activity, sport and health, and the city's aspirations for their year as European City of Sport. It's delightful to see that the city council is looking to invest in the celebrations for 2016, and is giving due consideration to the lasting legacy that the programme will create for the city and its residents."
Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader of the city council, added: "Being a European City of Sport for 2016 will provide so many opportunities for the whole of Stoke-on-Trent. We want to give everyone the chance to benefit and be involved in what will be the most exciting sporting programme the city has ever seen. We have a brilliant track record of delivering top class events and this is a chance to really raise the profile of the city on an international stage, attract investment and enhance our status as a key destination for sport."
Conference and event venues across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are also likely to feel the benefit of being associated with the European City of Sport 2016 - and will be highlighting the accolade at various exhibitions throughout the coming year.