Safer council deals make V8 better bet

By Susan Edmunds

Ford Brown's app brings the races into the digital age. Photo / EDGE Photographics
Ford Brown's app brings the races into the digital age. Photo / EDGE Photographics

V8 Supercars race organisers say the event provides a financial boon to the centres that host it. That's despite publicity in recent weeks about the reported $40 million cost to ratepayers of holding the event in Hamilton.

The race will not be held again in Hamilton after this month's event and Auckland may take it over. Mayor Len Brown has given qualified support to the idea of holding it at Pukekohe Raceway but signalled his concerns about ratepayers taking on the bill.

V8 spokesman Cole Hitchcock said that under the new arrangement between organisers and the councils of the host cities, organisers were responsible for the entire cost and wore any deficit.

He said the bill that fell to Hamilton ratepayers was caused by the poor practices of the original promoter.

Under his firm's deals with local and central government, if any event failed the promoters took the bill and no liability fell to councils.

The amount required from ratepayers and taxpayers would be capped wherever the event was held in New Zealand, and the race could be expected to provide a return 10 times the cost of that investment.

Hitchcock could not give a ballpark figure but said council support needed to be in place. It was estimated that staging the event in Hamilton cost $16 million and employed 110 people.

"Over the four years it has been in Hamilton it has injected somewhere between $90 million and $100 million into the local economy."

The Gold Coast race returned $60 million in one year, and the government contribution was capped at $6.5 million.

After the first year in Hamilton in 2008, which attracted 172,000 visitors, Horwath HTL produced a full economic impact report for the independent commissioner which said the event had brought $28 million of new money to the region.

Hamilton City Council's snapshot by Touchscreen Marketing and Research showed the event last year attracted more than 31,000 racegoing visitors who had a direct spend of $6.5 million. The total attendance was 105,000 and that figure did not take into account the economic benefits of having the V8 Supercars crew and media staying in local accommodation.

Contracts of $4 million had gone to Waikato companies as a result of the V8 Supercars this year, Hitchcock said.

"When the event leaves Hamilton it will have spent around $18 million in direct contracts with local Waikato businesses in the infrastructure of the event."

Hitchcock said overall the injection to the economy far outweighed the costs.

Last year, a private equity firm bought a controlling stake in V8 Supercars Australia for $200 million.

Kiwi puts supercar fans in driver's seat

A 25-year-old Kiwi is the designer behind a new app designed to give V8 Supercars fans up-to-date, in-depth information about each race.

Ford Brown grew up in Howick and moved to the Gold Coast 1 years ago to run the races' digital marketing campaigns.

The new mobile phone app gives fans the ability to track their favourite driver's live timing and track position throughout this year's championship.

A free version offers news alerts, instant results and a database of information. A paid upgraded version offers simultaneous access to the same information that is given to race teams at the track. Fans can follow in real time every car on the track.

"The app was a way to grow into the digital age," Brown says.

He says the biggest challenge in designing the app is the technology involved. While it looks simple, there is a lot of data running through behind the scenes.

"The biggest challenge was working out how that would be integrated into the app."

So far, 75,000 copies of the app have been downloaded and 10,000 people have paid the $14.99 for the upgraded version. "As far as the reviews go, people are loving it," Brown says.

"We see two main markets. Firstly it's the person at the track because at the street circuits you can't see what's happening on the other side. For those at home, if you're watching the race, the cameras are usually only following the top five and you miss the action at the back of the pack." Brown hopes to eventually offer audio and video streaming.

- Herald on Sunday

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