What are the economic, social and territorial effects of the infrastructures that will be built for the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics? We asked Francesca Zirnstein

The “Olympic Games 2026” Report produced by Scenari Immobiliari in collaboration with Risanamento confirms that the planned investments in Milan are estimated to be around 5 billion euros by 2026 and over 8 billion by 2030.

Francesca Zirnstein, general manager of Scenari Immobiliari and editor of the report, tells us how much it is important to understand that the main theme of this event is the legacy, the Legacy, the long-term economic, social-territorial effects. With a consideration that seems trivial but that must be remembered: the choice of the territory that hosts a great event is crucial and that we need to activate an “internal marketing” strategy that triggers a positive competition between the Italian territories.

“In addition to Milan and Cortina”, confirms Zirnstein, “the peripheral territorial realities and small cities will benefit from the fallout of the big event thanks to the combination of infrastructure and real estate investments and an increase in attractiveness at national and international level”.

How to evaluate the effects of the world event that we are preparing to host?

We must get out of rhetoric. It is wrong to think that organizing and hosting a major event automatically brings with it an economic boost, the growth of jobs, the increase in tourist flows.

It is equally rhetorical to argue that the benefits of these major events are dubious and that the outcomes are not in line with expectations. The costs of investments in infrastructures, management costs and revenues, substantially deriving from the sale of tickets and television rights: if these are the only elements of evaluation, it is certain that the revenues are not sufficient to compensate for the size of the investments.

Even going to quantify, and it is more complex than the Expos (which in recent years have been the engine of regeneration and urban development operations, such as MIND in Milan, Ed.), what are the infrastructural legacies, sports equipment, Olympic villages. Also remembering that sports infrastructures are not yet an asset class , a sector of the real estate market - as they are the residential sector , logistics, offices etc. - which catalyzes the interest of investors based on the ability to generate value.

Which real estate sectors will then be strengthened by the Winter Olympics?

Surely the hotel one, the first to benefit immediately. Following, and also in the long term, the residential, not only with an increase in volumes but also with a demand for higher quality. No less important are the executive sector, the offices , and the logistics sector.

From now to the Olympics - between 2022 and 2026 - urban and building transformations in Milan will give the possibility to develop a total area of approximately 1.1 million meters squared, against the estimated 680 thousand in the absence of the sporting event, and generate real estate economic effects of more than 5.5 billion euros. The surfaces will be equally concentrated in the residential (49 per cent) and office / commercial (49 per cent) sectors. The production / logistics sector will develop an area equal to approximately 2 percent of the total.

The territorial realities that will benefit most from the repercussions of the great event will be the “peripheral areas”, smaller cities, thanks to the combination of infrastructure and real estate investments and increased visibility and attractiveness at national and international level. An example of all is represented by the city of Cortina d'Ampezzo , for which an increase in prices of more than 10 percent in 2026 and more than 20 percent in 2030 is estimated.

How to ensure that the Olympics become a success story, as it was for Expo 2015?

There are many “non-physical” elements to evaluate, usually only tourist flows are taken into consideration. I think the theme is that of territorial marketing, not only internationally, and that it can attract investments, which can be quantified.

After Expo 2015 , investments doubled in Real Estate in Milan. And there has been a positive impact for many sectors. Such an important development today is more complex to build. In 2015, the Italian real estate market was young. Ours was a country of great builders but with respect to the financialization of the brick, to real estate services, we were at the beginning. We are now a mature market and it is more complex.

We therefore need a strategy that I would define as national “internal marketing”, which, as in 2015, triggers a competitive mechanism with other Italian cities. The resulting territorial attractiveness, in terms of the presence of students, tourists, corporate brands has consolidated the image of the city as an international metropolis. The same thing will have to happen for the Winter Olympics through the two different and complementary souls of the cities that will represent us: the Lombard capital and Cortina . In the report, we therefore focused our attention precisely on the long-term effects that go hand in hand with the value of the works created.

I like to remember that the involvement of citizens is substantial during all phases of approaching the event, also emotional; one cannot think that a territory triggers a virtuous effect if it does not start with people.