Save Meadowbank stadium: the politics of local stadium closure

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Abstract

This paper examines the politics of sports stadium developments using a case study of the Save Meadowbank stadium campaign. This group originated from local anger over Edinburgh Council’s decision to close, with limited consultations, Meadowbank stadium, to fund new facilities deemed in the strategic interest of sport throughout the city. Using new institutionalist insights it outlines how historical factors and formal and informal rules shaped acrimonious deliberations and implementation failure. Analysis was informed by local government policy documents, newspaper analysis, online material, and 21 interviews with protestors, councillors and officials. This examined how local dissent was organised and experienced, and how deliberations were influenced by perceptions of ‘official’ and ‘lay’ expertise. The blueprint of officials failed because the decision not to actively consult locals - and have key decisions coincide with proportional representation local elections – allowed astute campaigners to encourage a political bandwagon against it. This silenced the pro-development sports lobby and led senior Labour councillors to back-down for fear of losing their seats. Technical arguments from internationally renowned consultants were undermined by a local coach’s expertise, honest broker status and nostalgia towards Meadowbank, and the passionate politics and organising skills of left-wing protestors drawn from the Solidarity Party. They formed an uneasy, but effective, alliance. Lacking adequate national sports funding, a local sports facility strategy, and a political strategy for dealing with under-estimated sentiment towards Meadowbank, the fragile plans of under-resourced officials were undermined by campaigners, then sidelined by the global recession.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Early online date1 Oct 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Keywords

  • politics
  • Edinburgh
  • Meadowbank stadium
  • new institutionalism

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