Ratepayers funding sports teams

The Dom Post reports:

The “mystery” surrounding the amount of ratepayers’ money being spent on Wellington’s professional sports teams has some city councillors feeling uneasy.

More questions about the growing level of council funds being spent on pro teams were raised on Wednesday as the council gave the green light to a $550,000 budget overspend, to allow two fields at Martin Luckie Park in Berhampore to be upgraded to an elite training level.

Two full-sized sand-based fields will be built at the ground. It is expected the Wellington Phoenix football team will use Martin Luckie Park as a training base.

The vote was 8-6 in favour of approving the money.

Many of those opposed were uncomfortable with fact that grants for professional teams were currently decided by a handful of councillors only, leaving most in the dark as to how much they were getting.

Councillor Nicola Young said she was totally opposed to ratepayers funding professional football in any way, calling it a rich man’s game that was not the responsibility of ratepayers.

“I’m concerned about how much money we give to sports, and the fact we don’t know know how much money we give them … there’s a lot of mystery wrapped up in this.”

Most people support the Council providing sporting grounds for community teams to play on. This is a core function.

But giving great wads of money (or in kind) to professional sports teams is another matter. Why should ratepayers fund (for example) professional rugby teams?

Even worse these deals are done in secret, with the Council hiding behind commercial sensitivity. They’re giving the public’s money away. If a sporting body insists the details remain secret, then simply say “Well, no money then”.

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