Government sceptical of WBO fight funding

Stuff reports:

The Joseph Parker world heavyweight bout is borderline for government funding, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

Good to see the Government sceptical.

Labour spokesman Trevor Mallard has questioned its worth to New Zealand and Joyce on Tuesday highlighted the hurdles it would have to meet.

“It’s probably on the border for a number of reasons, but we’ll have a look at it – they’ve put an application in and we treat every application fairly,” Joyce said.

“Some of the questions would be, what’s the opportunity to promote New Zealand, and the sort of leverage of New Zealand, and it’s just a short time fame in that respect? It could be tricky.”

There would also need to be a clear understanding whether it was going to happen anyway, with or without the funding support, and whether it was planned to be a profit-making event.

“We don’t generally support events that are already profitable.”

He said the promoters had submitted a budget which officials would look at.

There was no express upper limit for how much the fund would pay out, although there was a budgeted amount each year and it was well allocated for the next year or two, “so there isn’t a huge amount sitting there at the moment”. 

Dean Lonergan of Duco Events told Radio Live they needed a “significant seven-figure amount” to make the fight happen.

I’d be appalled if the Government gave over a million dollars to the promoters. This is a massively commercial sport.

Joyce said the idea of the fund was to develop and encourage the development of things that would not otherwise happen in New Zealand.

“So for example we have supported bids to bring the Rugby League World Cup here and … the Fifa under-20 (football) as well as domestic events” including the Winter Games, golf and large regional events.

But it did not fund All Blacks tests because there was a clear understanding they would happen regardless.

I can see the case for funding certain events, being:

  • Having them in NZ will bring a huge influx of tourists coming for the event. I don’t see this happening for a boxing match.
  • Having them in NZ will result in a huge amount of publicity for NZ as a destination, increasing tourism. This might apply if occurring somewhere scenic, but this is an indoor match.
  • Having them in NZ will be a huge boost to that sport in NZ, such as FIFA Under 20s.

I see pretty much no case at all for funding the event except it would allow NZers to attend a heavyweight boxing match in person, rather than on television. I don’t see that as a case for taxpayer funding.

Lonergan said earlier on Tuesday that he felt the major events fund was set up “purposely to help an event like this”.

“This is a major event, it’s a historic event for New Zealand, and it might not otherwise happen here.

“It is going to happen, but it mightn’t happen in New Zealand now because of the situation. As I’ve said, there’s a 70 to 80 per cent chance it will go to the United States now unless we can sort something out very quickly.

Beware when people say you need to decide quickly.

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