Triathlon New Zealand is bidding to host one of the International Triathlon Union's world championship series events in Auckland next year.
After the success of the ITU world cup event in downtown Auckland in November and the upcoming hosting of the world triathlon series grand final in October, there is optimism New Zealand can lure one of the sport's annual high-profile events. The bid's chances have been enhanced by triathlon event ownership issues in Australia.
The ITU is seen by many in the multisport industry as a direct competitor for financial and human resources with the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) which has rights to international Ironman events.
In February the WTC purchased USM Events who own the triathlon events in Noosa, Mooloolaba and Geelong as well as the Sydney world championship series race.
Direct competition between the ITU and the WTC means the ITU may be more inclined to hand rights to Auckland for that world championship series event.
The ITU website indicates bids are due April 13. The ITU will then establish further details on each applicant, including a feasibility study. A final decision is expected by the middle of the year.
There are significant incentives to holding such an event. A city can be showcased to a worldwide television audience of millions while attracting thousands of international guests and race participants. The Auckland event in October is banking on the attendance of 3000 age group and elite athletes and up to 70,000 spectators. Spectator attendance across the 2011 series doubled from 2010, athletes compete for a total prize purse of approximately US$2 million ($2.45 million) and there are guarantees of live broadcasts and internet coverage along with highlights shows.
Putting on a world championship series event is expected to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 million-$2 million. It is estimated two-thirds of that investment would come from athlete entry fees and commercial sponsorship. Government funding could cover the rest until the event becomes more independent.
Triathlon New Zealand chief executive Craig Waugh confirmed a bid is imminent: "Our main aim is that this event becomes a legacy to develop the sport nationally after New Zealand hosts the world championship series grand final in October. Triathlon New Zealand is enthusiastic, passionate and motivated to run these events but we've got to guarantee goodwill for the future. Our sport needs a pathway so kids and their parents see elite athletes in action and use it as a motivation to aspiring to be Olympians.
"We want this event on an annual basis for at least three and hopefully five years. If it is not a permanent fixture, we'd like some form of annual event like a teams triathlon with the prospect that discipline will feature at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
"It'll involve talking to local and national government agencies like New Zealand Major Events [part of the Ministry of Economic Development], Sport New Zealand and the Auckland City Council."