David Phillips column: A sign of how far we have come
I'M Liverpool born and bred, but would have to admit that, to my father's regret, I have never really been a football fan. That's probably a 'shock revelation' for someone coming from the city that boasts the footballing cathedrals of Anfield and Goodison Park.
But the Swans' remarkable rise to the Premier League and the lift in spirits that produced in the city, finally, got me interested. I've even made a fleeting appearance on Match of the Day!
So I was at the Liberty Stadium last Saturday — and you could see how far the club and the city have come in the past decade.
There were camera crews and journalists from across the globe all around the ground.
We may have had the plum game of the weekend, but Swansea now has its own pulling power — and the start of the Swans' third season in the world's most watched football league is an important event for our city.
People right around the world now know exactly where Swansea is.
We know the direct economic benefit of Premier League status is almost £60 million a year, creating and protecting more than 400 jobs in and around the city. Last weekend alone half of Swansea's 16 biggest hotels were fully-booked for the Saturday night and most others reported limited vacancies ahead of the game.
Our big challenge is to translate all that interest into something more tangible.
As the chairman of the Swansea Bay City Region, I'm determined we should take full advantage the economic 'foot in the door' represented by the Swans' Premier League presence.
The City Region will play an increasing role in driving forward the economic regeneration for the 700,000 people who live within its borders.
These are tough economic times. But as a city region we are pooling resources, expertise and experience to create a profile that will encourage economic development and investment.
The Swans may have lost on Saturday, but in the long-term, the club, our great city and the city region together will be a winning team.
THOUSANDS of football fans will have seen a big heart wandering around outside Liberty Stadium, hugging passing fans.
It was a clever and memorable way to link two themes that we want to make the most of — culture and sport.
It was part of the new 'Cwtch the Bid' campaign to generate support, right across the city, for our bid to become UK City of Culture in 2017.
Our bid is all about providing access to the arts and culture (and the 'change' opportunities that brings) to people right across the city and recognise and celebrate the considerable amount of arts activity that already goes on.
We also want to celebrate the fantastic talent we have in the city, particularly amongst our young people.
Swansea Council is, of course, helping to lead the 2017 bid and I hope you'll back it too.
So 'Cwtch the Bid'
MY recent columns about the shops in St Helens Road and Swansea and Uplands Markets (and the next Uplands Market is this Saturday) have got me a bit of friendly grief from the load of other excellent shops I didn't mention. Sorry guys! But there are lots of you, right across the city. So let me encourage you all to SHOP LOCAL. Using local independents means what's spent in Swansea stays in Swansea.