ARC paid $2.9m for David Beckham

By Wayne Thompson

The Auckland Regional Council spent $2.91 million on travel, accommodation and promotion for the ill-fated football match between David Beckham's LA Galaxy and the Oceania All Stars, a report has shown.

The ARC refused to disclose the costs of travel and accommodation for the teams. The council says the information is commercially sensitive and subject to confidential agreements.

ARC chief executive Peter Winder said no specific amount had been spent on bringing Beckham to Auckland.

The accounts given to the Herald show a broader expense figure of $2.9 million - for accommodation and travel for the teams, as well as marketing and promotion costs.

It was also revealed yesterday that the ARC banked on David Beckham's "world superstar" status drawing Auckland's Asian community to its football game that lost $1.7 million.

"Beckham is a phenomena in Asia and with Asian people," councillors were told in a pitch from staff for staging the La Galaxy fiasco at the ARC-owned Mt Smart Stadium.

The confidential staff report councillors received in April also said that the ARC would be better off taking the profit from such an event than some other promoter and that the match would raise the profile of the stadium.

The report, released to the Herald yesterday under the Official Information Act, stated the stadium wanted to "grow" football and attract events that would appeal to a wider demographic profile. A key area would be to attract Asian and Pacific Island peoples.

The proposal for LA Galaxy v an Oceania All Stars team was pitched as a concept devised so that a wide range of people of differing ethnic descent would be attracted.

The Auckland Football Federation was to help by promoting the event to its 20,000 registered players and clubs.

"Therefore, it is expected that there should not be too many problems in attracting a healthy crowd for the event," said the report.

The "break-even" crowd needed was 25,000 and considering Wellington attracted 31,800 people to a Beckham event in 2007, the report said it was unlikely that this crowd size would not be achieved.

The report suggested the ARC set ticket prices for a 30,000-seat capacity, with 29,000 paying ticket sales.

A profit of $484,350 was expected if 30,000 tickets were sold.

However, on the night a crowd of 16,587 turned out, but "a portion of these were complimentary or were offered in a two-for-one deal, resulting in lower revenue".

Mr Winder's review of what went wrong shows key drivers in the loss of $1.79 million.

Costs of $3,057,602, were $151,052 or 5.2 per cent above the original budget. Revenue of $2,075,599 was 61 per cent lower than expected.

Expected revenue from ticket sales was $2,577,100 but was actually $782,000 - 70 per cent less than hoped for.

What went wrong? Mr Winder said the ticket price was too high, the marketing ineffective and the Oceania team were not good enough to be considered a creditable opposition.

Yesterday, Mr Winder said losses on the event would not fall on ratepayers.

- NZ Herald

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