Brian Kelly: End of the V8

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Last Sunday afternoon I drove out of Hamilton feeling a little sad.

As you know I love my motor racing and, in particular, Australian V8 Supercars.

I had spent an amazing three days immersed in the atmosphere of the event.

It wasn't just about a big motor race; it was a family festival where mums and dads brought the kids along to enjoy a day out with so much to offer in and around the track.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

While I was driving home, I thought about the loss to Hamilton that this event will be.

I know not everyone is going to agree but bear with me.

It will be a huge loss to the hundreds of community groups who volunteer to help run this huge world-class event.

Organisations such as the local Plunket whose rooms are close to the track and who rent car parks on their property for $20 a day to race fans. It was great to see the mums and dads volunteering to do their stint to help their Plunket.

Down the road, the bridge club was doing the same.

I was told that the money they made from their little enterprise paid their annual council rates bill for the year. So what will they do now?

Inside the venue, a volunteer army of young high school students were manning various circuit entrances to check people were wearing the right tickets for that particular part of the track.

These groups were undoubtedly sports or cultural groups who were fundraising for trips away or much-needed equipment.

They have now lost a major source of funding.

It's tough enough in this climate for parents and schools to raise money for their child or sports team without losing a great little earner.

Consider, too, the moteliers and restaurateurs. More than 100,000 people attended the three-day sporting spectacular.

In the past couple of years, Hamilton has lost two major sports events.

The World Rally Championship was based at Mystery Creek for a couple of years but has now moved to Auckland and the Australian V8 Supercars have been in Hamilton for the past five years.

I do understand that an event like this can cause a major disruption to a city and can be costly to put on.

I don't think there is a motor race street circuit in the world that actually makes money, but is it just about the money?

What about the international exposure via TV and other media. Then there are the sports fans who descend on the city from all over the world.

All you ever really hear about is how much it is costing the council and ratepayers.

You never hear about the positives, such as how much money comes into the district because of the event.

I would imagine the money invested in the city would be in the many millions.

I think it is important that when city councils enter into hosting major events, whether it is a motor race or a jazz festival, they think it through and look at the big picture and the future.

Don't just go from year to year.

Without a doubt, Hamilton's loss will be someone else's gain and my money is on Auckland for next year.

I guess the same could apply to our annual Easter weekend jazz festival.

It is definitely an iconic event and something we should never give up.

By all reports, this year's event brought in around 60,000 people to our city and they spent their money.

Okay, some concerts didn't get the support expected and therefore ran at a loss, but I think with a little better planning we can get things back on track.

I mentioned a few weeks back that I thought the jazz festival was at its best when the bands were in the bars and cafes along The Strand and not on big stages.

I also think it is very risky to bring in major overseas acts. They are incredibly costly and the organisers run a huge risk of the concerts not being supported, such as the Earth, Wind & Fire concert.

As the dust settles on this year's jazz festival, it is worrying to read reports that artists are left waiting to be paid and that the events were not supported as expected.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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