Let's get this party started
This is a day like no other in the history of this great old city - the Commonwealth Games - right here in Manchester.
Albert Square will be a focal point in the city
The largest multi-sport event ever staged in the United Kingdom and itís taking place right on our own doorstep. In a few hours time the eyes of up to one billion people around the globe will see for themselves how Manchester has responded to the challenge of staging one of the worldís greatest sporting events when Her Majesty the Queen officially declares open the XVII Commonwealth Games in a ceremony at the magnificent City of Manchester Stadium.
But tonightís opening ceremony is just a foretaste of what lies ahead over the following ten days. Everything about the 2002 Manchester Games is spectacular. It will be a celebration of sporting excellence and international brotherhood on a scale never seen before in this country.
The transformation of Manchester as it prepared for the Games has been hugely impressive, but nowhere has gone through a change as noticeable as Eastlands. If you were born and brought up in that area of Manchester then you simply wonít believe your eyes when you see the regeneration which has taken place.
If you are interested in statistics and logistics, here are a few which will give you some idea of the scale and magnitude of the event. The cost of new venues for the Games totals £170 million, paid for by Sport England lottery funding. The centrepiece of newly-created Sportcity is the £110 million City of Manchester Stadium which will seat 38,000 during the Games and will become home to Manchester City in 2003. More than 6,000 jobs have been generated as a direct result of the Games and 146 acres of land in east Manchester have been reclaimed for the building of Sportcity.
Record ticket sales
At the start of this month, more than 600,000 of the UK ticket allocation had been sold, which is double the amount sold for any other Commonwealth Games.
Half of those tickets are priced at £10 or less which has made these the ďaffordable GamesĒ. Five events are completely free. More than 20,000 people applied to be Games volunteers, a record 4,000 athletes will compete in a record 17 sports, watched by 4,500 media representatives.
But thatís enough of the stats - above all the Commonwealth Games will be a celebration. A celebration for Manchester and of Manchester. Letís show the world what this city is made of.
Letís show the watching millions around the globe that this is a city to be proud of. Letís embrace the event because Manchester is never going to have another show like this.
And letís embrace the athletes - many of whom are thousands of miles away from home. Underline our reputation for being the most hospitable city in the United Kingdom. Make our visitors welcome.
Make them want to come back to Manchester again.