Written responses from ATEED on the controversial V8 event for Pukekohe, costing Auckland ratepayers $10.6m, raise further concerns, says Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer.
"I can now see why this was decision was pushed through before Aucklanders" rates bills were sent out. There remain some big question marks particularly around the promised crowd numbers, lucrative visitor nights, and where the $7m of economic benefits are actually coming from," says Mr Brewer, who posed a series of questions to ATEED's Major Events Manager, CEO, and Chairman.
"Aucklanders were promised 130,000 spectators, but ATEED now reveals that the official numbers for Hamilton's V8 event fell from 173,000 in 2008 to 105,432 in 2011, with an estimate for 2012 put at 116,000. Given this trend, 130,000 people seems overly optimistic at best. More worryingly is ATEED's admission that while further growth in crowd numbers is a possibility, it hasn't actually been built into their forecasts.
"Further, ATEED has also revealed it's expecting 53,757 people to attend the V8s over three days, but it trumped up and sold councillors 130,000 "spectator days" based on each person attending for 2.42 days. This presentation seems inconsistent with how ATEED forecast attendee numbers to last year"s Rugby World Cup, when it responsibly talked about actual expected visitor numbers to Auckland, rather than counting visitors multiple times every time they attended a rugby match.
"What's also concerning is the big sell councillors were given on the 50,064 visitor nights the three-day motorsport event will create for Auckland. It now turns out that only 25,793 of those nights are in some form of commercial accommodation during the duration of the event, with a peak single day demand of 11,156 bed nights.
"ATEED expects 54% of domestic visitor nights to come from people staying with friends and relations, and all Auckland attendees are assumed to stay in their own beds. Promoting 50,064 visitor nights was a bit disingenuous. With the majority staying at their mates' place, it is hardly going drive a lot of new and significant economic activity but that"s the impression we were given."
Mr Brewer said a big part of the council's decision to go for Pukekohe was all the economic opportunities the V8s would bring to the southern town. However ATEED now reveals that it has no idea how many paid visitor nights would take place in either Pukekohe, Auckland's CBD, or the rest of the region. Nor does ATEED know how much of the projected economic return of $7.068m is expected to occur in Pukekohe, the Auckland CBD, or the rest of the Auckland region. On both questions, ATEED responded that "A sub-regional breakdown has not been undertaken."
"Despite all the concerns raised by Audit New Zealand over the Hamilton V8s, which cost their ratepayers nearly $40m, Auckland councillors were sold a promise of huge regional economic gains, huge crowds, huge and profitable visitor nights, and huge benefits for Pukekohe. It now appears that these were mostly hopes presented in such a way to get some quick political sign-off," says Cameron Brewer.
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