The proposed 30 metre high Man of Steel statue set to tower over the M1 motorway near Sheffield could bring an estimated boost to the local economy of more than £9million, a new report predicts.
The Man of Steel Economic Statement calculates that visits by schools, tourists and business functions could bring in the multi-million pound total annually, should the project be seen through to completion.
Earmarked for a spot on the Rotherham side of the M1 near Meadowhall, the statue has been designed by Sheffield sculptor Steve Mehdi.
A scale model has been on show for the past week at Kelham Island Museum, before being displayed during a dinner at Ponds Forge for the Transplant Games.
The model is now back at Sheffield University’s Advanced Manufacturing Park in Catcliffe.
Steve said the report, prepared by Dr Nicola Palmer at Sheffield Hallam University’s Business School, made ‘truly impressive reading’.
“The figures have been collated from a range of official sources, such as Yorkshire Tourist Boad and other landmark projects such as the Angel of the North and - assuming very conservative figures - offers a very positive outcome for the project and its benefits to the region,” he added.
The report suggests the statue could increase annual visitor numbers to the region by just over four per cent.
Steve said: “Of an estimated annual visitor income of £224million in Sheffield and Rotherham, Man of Steel could contribute £9 million. This might sound ridiculous until you factor in the broad spend on other activities that result in visitor participation.
“We’ve waited a long time for the report and, now that we have it, we can implement the funding strategy.”
In the economic statement, Dr Palmer says the project’s main emphasis will be on attracting visitors to an educational centre near the statue, but adds: “The business visitor offer might be focused around evening networking events intended to showcase Yorkshire at a corporate level, with loyalty benefits attached to the concept of a ‘corporate club’.
“Merchandise will be developed as the project progresses, providing a sustainable income stream. A shop will be included where visitors can purchase goods connected with the project and the wider geographical region.
“Because surplus funds from merchandising will be used to fund community educational development there will also be a need to consider the provision of other spend opportunities on-site in the longer term - café facilities and venue hire charges.
“The observation deck of the visitor education centre can offer a unique meetings venue for businesses.”
The report estimates that day visits will bring in £8.85m, school visits £237,200 and business events £3,000, based on projected annual figures of 150,000 day visits to the statue, 40,000 schoolchildren seeing the landmark and 40 business functions.
Simon Spode, marketing manager at the Advanced Manufacturing Park, said: “We are pleased to have the model back at the park, both to support the Man of Steel project and to showcase the fantastic technical knowledge and capability that we have here.
“There are similarities between the park and the Man of Steel project, in that both will have reach and benefit outside their immediate geographical areas. The AMP is an asset locally, regionally and nationally, and similarly the sculpture is set to become an icon for the whole Yorkshire region, providing a gateway to the county.”
Funding for the statue is being sought from public donations and private investment.