The BBC has announced that BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 is coming to Belfast.Live on BBC One from The Odyssey Arena on Sunday 20 December, in front of an estimated 8,000 capacity audience, the prestigious event will round off another year of sport in style, celebrating the biggest sporting achievements, success stories, personalities and memorable moments.
Now in its 62nd year, this is the first time that Northern Ireland has hosted the star-studded show, which first went on the road in 2006. Proudly home to a glistening array of sporting legends and rich in sporting heritage, it’s a fitting location to welcome the sporting heroes both present and past, in a packed year that includes a Rugby World Cup, Women’s Football World Cup and an Ashes on UK soil. 2015 will also see all the Olympic sports gearing up for Rio 2016, including the World Athletics Championships in August, plus all the home nations’ football teams seeking qualification for Euro 2016.
Tickets will go on sale later on in the year from the Odyssey Arena Box Office.
Presenting the show to the live arena audience plus the millions more watching on TV will be Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan and Clare Balding. The spectacular evening is a chance for the public to share the experience with the stars before crowning their Sports Personality of the Year, through a public vote. Last year’s show, watched by just under 9 million people on BBC One, saw Lewis Hamilton win the coveted title at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow.
Barbara Slater, Director of BBC Sport, says: “We’re delighted to be bringing Sports Personality to Belfast, something we have wanted to do for a long time. The city, and Northern Ireland as a whole, is home to so many sporting legends and steeped in sporting history, not to mention its worldwide reputation for a welcome second to none. We’re looking forward to a truly spectacular show.”
World Golf Number 1 and runner-up for Sports Personality of the Year 2014 Rory McIlroy says: “I think Belfast has shown over the past few years that it can hold massive events like the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. We have the facilities like the Odyssey Arena which hosted the MTV music awards. I think it will be huge, Belfast has been crying out for events like this, and in the years since the Millennium, Belfast has grown into a really vibrant city.”
Belfast Lord Mayor, Cllr Arder Carson, also welcomed the announcement. “This is a great coup for our city and further enhances our reputation as a great venue for high-quality, high-profile events,” he said. “Belfast, as it always does, will roll out the welcome mat – and we look forward to the positive outcomes this will undoubtedly bring.”
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster, says: “Northern Ireland is building a global reputation as the home of great events, which makes it only fitting that the BBC should bring its Sports Personality of the Year Awards to Belfast. The hugely anticipated event will once again raise the profile of Northern Ireland to an audience of millions, as well as providing a significant boost to the local economy.”
Belfast City Council and Tourism NI are supporting the event in order to maximise its impact across the city.