The European City of Sport title is awarded by ACES Europe, a not-for-profit group based in Brussels who promote sport across Europe. Bristol will take over from Stoke-on-Trent who currently hold the title.

Cities are judged on their sporting facilities, residents’ level of participation along with the success of local teams and sporting events.

The award was secured by the Bristol Partnership for Sport and Active Recreation with the support of Bristol’s professional sports teams as well as other sporting bodies and the city’s universities.

Mayor Ferguson said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to announce that Bristol has been awarded the title of European City of Sport 2017.
“I took an early decision to investigate the potential for sport across Bristol soon after I was elected as Mayor, inviting Colin Sexstone to chair a mayoral commission on sport. He and all commissioners did an excellent job and as a result, a city-wide sports partnership was set up to make sport work harder and do more for everyone who lives and works and studies in our city.
“As a city we already do much to encourage people to be more active and healthy, and this year of sport gives us an opportunity to build on all the good things we have already achieved.”

As a curtain raiser to the year, the Mayor has dedicated £5,000 from his discretionary fund to contribute towards black and minority ethnic sport groups in the city.

Colin Sexstone, chair of the partnership, said: “It’s a great honour to secure European City of Sport status. 2017 will be an exciting opportunity for Bristol to develop its growing reputation as a hub for sport and participation, both nationally and internationally.
“The year of celebration will serve as a catalyst to promote the importance of healthy lifestyles, to increase participation in sport and active recreation in the city, and to engage all of the city’s many and diverse communities.

“We have got all of the main players together as a new Bristol Partnership for Sport and Active Recreation, so we have got a huge amount of support, and we are ready to make sport work harder and do more for everyone who lives and works and studies in our great city.
“The commitment to placing sport at the heart of plans to regenerate the city is clear and today’s announcement kicks off an exciting new chapter for Bristol’s sporting future.”
Physical inactivity is a very significant cause of ill health in the UK, and a leading contributor to rising levels of many long-term conditions, such as obesity, diabetes and dementia.

Bristol Sport chief executive Andrew Billingham, and member of the Bristol Partnership for Sport and Active Recreation said: “Bristol Sport is delighted to have supported the bid and look forward to helping establish Bristol as a premier sporting city.

“Our vision is to inspire sport in Bristol and beyond and it is great that we are all working together to improve sporting provision.

“Investment in facilities is a key part of that and it is perfect timing that the £45m rebuild of Ashton Gate Stadium will be completed in time for this historic year.”

An important theme for the year will be women and girls in sport, an area where Bristol is already showing exceptional growth and success.

Ashton Gate welcomed the England Lionesses for their Euro 2017 Qualifier in November 2015, whilst the County Ground has been confirmed as one of five venues to host the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup next year.

The year aims to build on the success of the Bristol Girls Can campaign and other projects aimed at encouraging more people to get involved with sport and active recreation.

European City of Sport will bring together the best of what the city is already doing to support and celebrate sport with additional events and campaigns for 2017.