Taxpayer funding for Joseph Parker fight called into question

The rationale for a taxpayer-funded Joseph Parker fight is being called into question.

Parker's promoters are asking for public money to ensure the New Zealand heavyweight boxer gets a world title fight in Auckland in December.

Labour's sports spokesman Trevor Mallard said he had not been briefed, but would be pretty reluctant on taxpayer funding because it was an event that was going to happen anyway.

He said the main reason for taxpayer funding was for an event that would not otherwise happen or because of some extra leverage.

"I'm not sure what sort of extra leverage you would get off a fight. It's not like the scenery of New Zealand is going to be greatly displayed," Mallard said.

Promoter Dean Lonergan told the Herald last week that Duco Events will require sponsorship and funding to the tune of seven figures for the December 10 fight between Parker and Andy Ruiz Jr for the WBO world title.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce confirmed yesterday that an application for Government funding had been received for the bout.

"That will go through the process and be treated like any other application," he said.
Joyce said it would have to meet a range of criteria to quality for a contribution from the Major Events Development Fund. In particular, the organisers would have to show that it could not go ahead without Government money.

"The whole idea of the fund is to develop new major events," Joyce said.

"It's about providing money to support something that would otherwise not happen.

"For example, and this is an extreme example, a rugby test is already happening and if it came to the major events fund then we'd say 'it's going to happen anyway'."

The fund had previously been used to help bring the Under-20 Football World Cup and the Rugby League World Cup to New Zealand.

Neither event would have gone ahead without Government backing, Joyce said.

State funding could also be contingent on whether local agencies were supporting the boxing event.

Auckland Council-backed ATEED chief executive Brett O'Riley told the Herald yesterday that he was "delighted" with the confirmation the fight would happen.

"It will be one of the most highest profile events that Auckland has ever hosted," he said.

"We definitely intend to be a major partner with them in the fight and we will work with Duco on that basis. We have already had some preliminary discussions."

- NZ Herald

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