Saturday, April 30, 2011

Karl du Fresne: A stadium of four million suckers

THE LIKELY cost to Auckland ratepayers of the Rugby World Cup has now been put at $103 million and rising. That includes $3 million-plus for the privilege of acquiring the extra three matches transferred from quake-stricken Christchurch.
Some bonus. 

I’m not sure whether the figure also takes into account the staggering $3.07 million cost of erecting a proposed giant TV screen in Aotea Square – a project the former Auckland City Council approved on the basis of an airy-fairy estimate of $1.65 million.

Isn’t it funny how often that happens? Politicians and officials get sucked in by grandiose projects on the basis of optimistic cost projections, then meekly agree to pay up when the costs blow out, as they invariably do. What the heck – it’s only ratepayers’ money.

Expect to see these shenanigans replicated around the country, albeit on a less spectacular scale than in Auckland, as the Rugby World Cup nears.

In the same week as Auckland’s big-screen blowout was revealed, it was announced that Hamilton ratepayers would have to fork out an extra $410,000 because someone decided the floodlights at Waikato Stadium weren’t up to RWC standard – and all this for just one match, since the other two Hamilton fixtures will be played during the day.

There’s a pattern here. A massive PR blitz has seduced us all into thinking the RWC is such a wondrous event that we should not only swallow the massive bill – never mind that the country’s broke – but also put up with an unconscionable suppression of normal commercial competition on the ground that the interests of the precious sponsors must be protected. (The latest news is that even fund-raising sausage sizzles will be forbidden from the “clean zones” around RWC venues.)

We’re a stadium of four million, all right – four million captive suckers, comprehensively being shafted by an unholy alliance of powerful sports administrators, sycophantic politicians and hard-nosed multinational corporates that probably don’t give a toss about rugby.

First published in the Curmudgeon column, The Dominion Post, April 26.


Steve Schapel said...

The day I found out the school terms were being changed because of the rugby, was the day I realised it was out of control.

dave thompson.. said...

i agree entirly with karl.

the money wasted on what is it the world rugby cup?

ive heard it mentioned for the last 3 years as to where the trophy will sit when the all blacks win it..hello!!!!! as in past world cups the all blacks dont have a show of winning..they have to learn how to lose before they'll ever win..i realize the best players in the world play for the all blacks but win the world cup? i'm sorry they will not..
and it makes me laugh when the powers that be and others talk about the money it will bring into new zealand i think they mean take out of the country..

Anonymous said...

The massive costs of tickets for the so called PRIVELIGE of watching world cup games means the IRB is making a massive profit. The direect and indirect costs to run the fixutures should come out of IRB and NZRU profits. I agree the more international and national events we can have in our towns the better. Councils building ammenities and holding events is great, and I look forward to those in out city, BUT these councilors (idiots) who see local government as their personal gravy train need to be held accountable. Councils should provide the ammenities, but not be held to ransom every time some group wails we will loss a fixuture if the Government or Councils do not supply an open cheque. Don't request estimates, get firm quotes so there is no blow out as an estimate is a licence to print money it seems it one is dealing with local and central government. The NZRU seem sto have money to burn. Have a salary cap. No player is ireplacaable. Our two so called top players are becoming injury prone so why offer them indecent amounts of money. Look after the next generation, or suddenly soccer will become number one

Brian said...

Coliseum Extra! Extra!
Straight from Rome, via catacombs.
Reuters Special Latino Reporter.
“Envious Casca”
Our Empire (Rome) may have vanished in the 5th century A.D. but we welcome all New Zealanders to the days of the Emperors...even by default.
Before even your Maoris ventured on their canoes (the ones without satellite navigation) we here, in this eternal city, welcomed our sports heroes weekly (sometimes daily depending on the popularity of our (Emperor) Political Leader (s)) to our stadium, built by slaves (You, I understand call them workers), for the municipal benefit of just everyone.
Whatever the cost our Coliseum was finally built, we are indeed happy to see that in your advanced period of time that your forward looking leaders have sort fit to spend, spend and spend. Hell’s a cost, all gladiators are renewable, and like us you must sport the best image upon the world stage.
My friends alas Hades calls. When your greatest sporting venture reaches its final climax...the last game, the last hurrah, there is the prize, the cup within your reach. Drink even if only the have had the moment. Give praise Ave Kaiser! we about to pay salute you.
Beware not the Ides of March, your Emperor’s thumbs down....these can be borne...naught can change the outcome. But when the last citizen, the last sigh, the quietness of your daily life has returned, then will the yearly rateable demand come at last to your villas!
Care not citizens of “God’s Own” fortune favours you with fresh leaders after November, with as normal more promises of chariots races, more sport and more costs.
Welfare, Rugby or Christians to the Lions...tis all the same 5th or 21st Century.