Forty giant wolf sculptures could soon be prowling the streets of Wolverhampton in a scheme predicted to bring in £7 million and 100,000 tourists.The 6ft "Wolves Wolves" would be dotted around city centre landmarks - similar to the famous bears of Berlin and superlambananas of Liverpool.
It is hoped the colourful creatures would attract floods of selfie-snapping tourists who would go on to spend big bucks in the city.
Similar schemes have proved widely successful elsewhere. In Bristol, for example, Wallace and Gromit statues brought £77m to the economy, while Northampton businesses reported a 14 per cent increase in trade after putting up 40 lions.
The plan would see Wolverhampton celebrities decorate the Wolves to make each one unique, with Liam Payne, Suzi Perry, Jody Craddock, Denise Lewis and Caitlin Moran on the wishlist.
If the scheme is 10 per cent as successful as the one in Bristol, as bosses hope, then £7m will be pumped into the city. Planned spots include the university, art gallery, Molineux and Dudley Street. Other landmarks including the Grand Theatre, St Peter's Church, Civic Hall, and even the Express & Star are also in the running.
Wolverhampton disability charity, Outside Centre has launched the project - and promised not to forget wider areas such as Bilston, Wednesfield and Tettenhall. Director Paul Darke said: "The city needs a positive role model and a project to make it noticed. People will come from far and wide. "We expect to achieve 10 per cent of the success of Bristol's scheme, which in itself would be absolutely fantastic. That would mean a more than a £7mboost to the economy and almost 100,000 extra visits to Wolverhampton. But it's also about bringing the community together. It's win-win."
The scheme, which is likely to cost £50,000, will have a big social media presence
Mobile phone apps will be developed to follow the wolf trail across the city, alongside more traditional printed maps. It is also planned that merchandise will be sold so visitors can take home a replica of their favourite sculpture.
Council chiefs welcomed the idea and said they would be able to help Outside Centre secure funding to launch the project, currently planned for summer 2016. Councillor Roger Lawrence, leader of Wolverhampton City Council, said: “The Wolves Wolves idea is very interesting and similar initiatives in other cities have been very successful. “While in the current climate the council can’t make any financial contribution to this project, we would be happy to offer support and advice to the organisers to help them secure external funding.”
At the end of the summer of 2016, the wolf sculptures would be auctioned off for charity, with money going to Outside Centre to launch a similar-sized disability art project.