Sporty Auckland outruns Sydney

By Steve Deane

Super City hosted six more premier events than NSW capital from 2008 to 2012, says UK business report.

Auckland spent $97 million on the Rugby World Cup for an estimated return of more than $500 million. Photo / Dean Purcell
Auckland spent $97 million on the Rugby World Cup for an estimated return of more than $500 million. Photo / Dean Purcell

Auckland has overtaken Sydney as a host of premier events in Australasia and is now second only to Melbourne, an industry study has found.

A report by the British-based SportBusiness Group shows Auckland hosted 17 major events between 2008 and 2012 while Sydney hosted just 11.

Auckland also hosted the greatest variety of events, and was rated "the most ambitious city in the region", the report stated.

The only other New Zealand centre in the top 10 is Wellington, unchanged in eighth place.

"To compete and come out on top of Sydney, the Gold Coast and hot on the heels of Melbourne, is huge," Mayor Len Brown said.

"Major sporting events are big business and bring substantial economic benefits to the host region, so there is fierce competition globally to secure events."

The findings are in a report called The Bid Book, authored by UK-based sports research and market intelligence writer David Walmsley.

Major events coming up in Auckland include the Cricket World Cup, Fifa U-20 World Cup, Volvo Ocean Race stopovers and the 2017 World Masters Games - which is expected to attract 36,000 competitors.

A company with 50 staff and its own board has been set up with a budget of $33.6 million to run the Masters Games.

Auckland's annual budget for securing top sporting events has risen from $6 million five years ago to between $8 million and $12 million now, said Rachael Carroll, of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (Ateed).

"That's enabled us to be far more aggressive and proactive in going out and searching for those events."

The increase and diversity of events were part of a strategy to capitalise on hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2011, Mrs Carroll said.

Auckland's spend on the cup was $97 million over five to six years, with the return estimated at over $500 million, Mrs Carroll said.

"We've come straight off the back of Rugby World Cup and staged a Volvo Ocean Race, a World Triathlon Championship and secured the World Masters Games. We've seen cities that have not done that.

"A real good example is Sydney, which had the Olympics and then dropped off the face of the Earth for a while. Now they are trying to invest to catch up."

Ateed's figures show that events in 2011/12 produced a net return of $28.9 million to the Auckland economy. The current funding year's events are on track to return $30 million.

Auckland may have overtaken Sydney but it is unlikely to match Melbourne - which has major set-piece events such as the Australian Open tennis tournament, spring racing carnival, Aussie rules grand final and Melbourne Grand Prix.

Mrs Carroll said Melbourne spent A$50 million each year just to secure the grand prix.

• Tourism NZ yesterday announced it had set up a working group, headed by former professional player and course designer Greg Turner, to develop an international golf tourism strategy as part of a bid to attract more high-value tourists.

Coming to Auckland

* UCI BMX World Championship 2013
* Table Tennis World Veteran Championships 2014
* Volvo Ocean Race Auckland Stopover 2014-15
* V8 Supercars ITM 400 Auckland 2014-18
* ICC Cricket World Cup 2015
* Fifa Under-20 World Cup 2015
* IRB World Junior Championships 2015
* IMGA World Masters Games 2017.

- NZ Herald

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