Public-private partnerships, sport and urban regeneration in Britain and Spain
In a period of apparent new economic, political, social and cultural configurations in Western cities, a general diminution of belief in the ability of local government itself to affect significant policy change in response to the global restructuring of the economy has facilitated the emergence of new forms of urban governance in the post or neo-Fordist era, often following American models. Despite the fact that there are some differences in the interpretations of which new forms of urban governance are emerging, there appears to be a general recognition of the need for policy solutions represented by the development of partnerships and coalitions of interests ('regimes') in urban contexts, involving not only local authorities but also a range of private and semi-public actors. The rise of the entrepreneurial model among city governments also forms part of the socalled new urban politics of the post-Fordist era. Similarly, it is commonly argued that there is a growing inter-urban competition between cities for prominence as centres of consumption as one means to replace those traditional urban industrial activities which have gone into decline. This 'post-modern' strategy, including the use of a wide range of prestigious urban projects in areas of consumption such as sports, culture and leisure, has recently become commonplace in the restructuring of many Western cities. In Britain and Spain as elsewhere, some cities are using sport and leisure to drive the regeneration of their cities. Focusing on two European cities subject to large-scale deindustrialisation, Bilbao (Spain) and Sheffield (Great Britain), this thesis applies an urban regime analysis to evaluate the emergence and operation of public-private partnerships in a process of urban regeneration. This comparative study of urban politics also examines the role of sport and leisure in urban regime or coalition construction and the role of urban regimes or coalitions in the development of a sports strategy in the case of Sheffield and a cultural strategy in the case of Bilbao. Following an introductory chapter, the second chapter examines new practices and forms of urban governance, using traditional and 'new wave' urban theories, in particular the formation and operation of urban regimes and their implication for sports policy changes. The contribution of this thesis is to examine the applicability and validity of American models of urban change to the analysis of two different Western European cities that may help to understand how contemporary cities respond to contemporary urban problems. In addition, this thesis expects to expand the analysis of the role of sport in urban regime construction and the role of urban regimes in the development of sports or cultural strategies. The choice of regime theory has implications for both methodology and the subsequent interpretation of events. Thus, the third chapter addresses the general description of the ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions underpinning regime theory. The fourth and fifth chapters review how urban planning and sport policies have evolved in Spain since the Spanish Civil War and in Britain since the World War II. This provides a context to the core of the thesis, which evaluate urban regime formation and operation and their implications in the development of sports strategies in Bilbao and Sheffield. The concluding chapter seeks to summarise the findings of the empirical research and relates the examples of Bilbao and Sheffield coalitions or urban regimes for economic regeneration to the nature and characterisation of contemporary urban and sports politics.