The Herald reports:
Auckland ratepayers could throw hundreds of thousands of dollars towards Joseph Parker’s heavyweight title fight, which will take place in the city on December 10.
The boss of the council’s events arm, Brett O’Riley, yesterday confirmed Ateed “continues to be a part of discussions around this opportunity”.
In a statement he said Ateed was “not providing financial sponsorship directly to the fight” but continued to “look for opportunities to market and leverage Auckland on an international stage through world-class events like this”.
He did not say what form any financial assistance would take or whether it was in the order of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We will look at opportunities to market Auckland to an international audience, but what form this takes won’t be determined until the fight is confirmed to take place in Auckland.”
When Parker’s title fight against Mexican Andy Ruiz was first mooted for Auckland, O’Riley said Ateed “definitely intend to be a major partner” and contribute “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in cash and services.
So taxpayers are off the hook, but ratepayers may not be.
Some sporting events produce regional benefits. The Wellington Sevens are one. They get a huge influx of visitors – domestic and international.
Is anyone going to fly to Auckland to watch a boxing match between two people they probably have not heard of? If it was a title defence, then possibly. But this is fighting for a vacant title.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is happy to commit ratepayers’ money to the fight, subject to Ateed preparing a business case showing a return to Aucklanders.
Goff was in the ring at Manukau’s Vodafone Events Centre announcing Parker’s last fight against Alexander Dimitrenko on October 1. Goff, who was campaigning for the mayoralty at the time, said he was a guest of Vodafone, not Duco.
Goff said not everyone liked boxing, “but I think there is value in the sport”.
On the hustings, Goff promised to drive savings across council and restore public confidence in management of ratepayer money.
Possible ratepayer funding for the fight comes as the council is making “significant cuts” to the $65 million library budget and laying off more 50 library staff.
I guess if the Council funds it, then the Mayor and Councillors get free tickets to it!