Thursday, June 17, 2021

Kate Hawkesby: So we can pay for cyclists, but not the America's Cup?


So I’m just not sure how we reconcile almost a billion dollars for a bridge for cyclists, which, by the way, will bring us zero economic return, yet we can put the brakes on the cheque book at $99 million for the America’s Cup.

The problems are complex. There wasn’t enough cash in the offer, that $99 million included ‘support in kind,’ so their base facilities and so on. But it just wasn’t enough.

And though many of us don’t care or think it’s just a rich man’s sport or whatever, you can’t discount the kudos, people, money and tourism it brings into the country. The millions pumped into the economy, the feel good factor, the job creation, the buzz.

Don’t under estimate all of that, and I’m sure we don’t in a world post-Covid.

But any business we can throw hospitality’s way, any jobs we can create, any life blood we can pump into the struggling Auckland CBD, is all now potentially lost.

Dalton says it doesn’t necessarily mean the Cup goes offshore, but let’s be honest, it’s not looking good.

The government, I guess, was between a rock and a hard place. They've dolled out so much money to banal projects these days, they’re not really in a position to throw more at a sporting event, without some kind of backlash.

But then fears of a backlash didn’t stop them funding a cycle bridge and that’s certainly not giving us the returns hosting the Cup would.

Cup Minister Stuart Nash said he felt the government’s offer was “highly credible” and that the government “went into the process in good faith.” Did they though? Really?

One would hazard a guess this government is a tad more into cyclists and walking tracks than it is international sporting events.

I don’t know that they ever really dug deep enough to truly understand what was required here or how to make it work. I mean ‘support in kind’ is not cash. And it’s cash that this thing needs to be viable.

The PM said they’d “Put their best foot forward, but that there’s limits to what they could do." I wish they’d applied those fiscal limits to the harbour bridge cycle lane if that’s true.

I’m not sure we’ve seen any evidence that this is a government of tight fiscal responsibility; money seems to be flying in all directions for their own pet projects. She also said that because the government’s contribution is taxpayer-funded, “It's got to benefit New Zealand."

And hosting the America’s Cup doesn’t? Come on.

You just know though, that if the Cup does in fact go offshore, the first people to be grabbing photo ops at whatever international base it ends up at, will be the very people who turned down paying for it and saw it leave New Zealand in the first place.

Kate Hawkesby is a political broadcaster on Newstalk ZB - her articles can be seen HERE.


DeeM said...

How much money did the last Americas Cup generate, principally for Auckland? If it was significantly more than "invested" then it was a good deal and vice-versa.
Did the US, GB and Italian teams have funding from their governments? If not, that means they secured private investment and sponsorship to finance their challenges. So, no reason why the NZ team can't do the same, rather than using taxpayers money.
How many tourists typically visit for an Americas Cup and how much do they spend? How does it compare to the Rugby World Cup or other major sporting events here?
Kiwis will get behind the team, in person or remotely, wherever the Cup is held. For many people, holding it here largely depends on the answers to the questions above.

Ray S said...

Given the amount of money the players earn, they could almost fund it themselves.

Fred H. said...

The new bridge should be for motorised vehicular traffic not cyclists and pedestrians. These latter travellers should use the two clip-on lanes of the existing bridge.

Building a new tunnel for motorised vehicular traffic beneath the harbour would be very difficult, dangerous and costly.