excellent article on the history of Manchester City since they last won the football league provides one of the best accounts of what the club's success means to its fans and also the vast amount of money thrown at the project by its new owners in Abu Dhabi. Apparently City's move to the 48,000 capacity City of Manchester Stadium in the summer of 2003 was a "crucial factor" in Sheikh Mansour's decision to buy the club five years later. If this is the case then we could argue that City's recent success (winning the FA Cup last year and the Premier League this year) and the sense of excitement in anticipation of success to come is the greatest legacy of the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The Games were awarded to Manchester in November 1995, after failed bids to host the 2000 Olympics (in September 1993) and the 1996 Olympics (in September 1990), and along with the IRA bomb of June 1996, they are seen as having played a major role in the city's subsequent regeneration. Despite not being taken that seriously as a major tournament in its own right, the Commonwealth Games (coinciding with Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee year and coming 25 years after the Sex Pistols had released Nevermind the Bollocks… Here's the Sex Pistols) turned out to be hugely important for Manchester, as has been well-documented. Looking at their legacy ten years on, we can't help comparing it with the London Olympics due to take place this summer (will it have the same impact on London as the 2002 Games had on Manchester?). But we should also look at the background to the Games and the political environment that allowed them to happen in the way they did.
On 26th May 1999, Manchester United beat Bayern Munich with two late goals to win the Champions League final at the Nou Camp in Barcelona. The club, whose ground is a stones throw away from the Lowry and Libeskid's IWMN, had already won five of the first seven Premier Leagues (this would later become seven of the first nine) and featured young British stars such as Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Paul Scholes. So the Commonwealth Games arrived on a wave of optimism (sporting, economic, architectural, political) and provided Manchester with the showcase it long needed and been campaigning for. Consequently it's difficult to separate the legacy of the Games with the transformation that took place at around the same time. The one key factor thoughout was the City of Manchester Stadium (now the Etihad). This had been planning stages right from the failed Olympic bids of 1990 and 1993. Construction began in January 2000 (at the same time as Libeskind's IWMN) on a brownfield site in East Manchester. Opened in time for the Games, it cost around £112m and was afterwards converted from an athletics venue to a football stadium. Man City moved in just before the start of the 2003-2004 season and were taken over by the Abu Dhabi group five years later. City's recent success in the league can therefore be traced back to the co-operation between a forward-thinking Labour council in Manchester and a supportive Conservative government in Westminster back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.