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Securing the Sevens is Good News for Wellington

Securing the Sevens is Good News for Wellington but Council Events Funding needs more Scrutiny

Securing the NZI Sevens in Wellington until 2016 is wonderful news for the city but it is disappointing the Council had to commit more money to host the tournament according to the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

“It is a real relief that the Rugby Sevens are staying in Wellington. The annual event is a fantastic advertisement for the city and the contribution it makes to the local economy is significant,” said Chamber President Richard Stone.

“We would like to congratulate all involved including Wellington Rugby and the Wellington City Council.

“However, we understand the Council had to commit more money to win the right to keep it here which raises questions over events funding generally.

“We would be concerned if councils with deep pockets of ratepayers’ funds were seen as a soft touch. As we saw with the Hobbit, it is too easy for commercial entities to take advantage of government – both central and local.

“Wellington City Council has a very good record with events attraction to-date and can take credit for the excellent events that have enhanced the reputation of the city. However, there are significant risks attached to this activity. Auckland’s experience with David Beckham is just one example.

“ There is a point where the cost of attracting the events exceeds the economic benefits. We are not saying we are at that point yet but this is an area that deserves careful scrutiny. We acknowledge the difficult position the council was in as Wellingtonians did not want to lose the tournament but with finances tight thanks to the leaky homes liability, the Council needs to be particularly careful.

“We support the Council’s events attraction role but think the Council needs to look at more creative ways to attract events without necessarily spending rate-payer money. There may be other things the council can do to facilitate events and make such bids more attractive - by temporarily waiving council regulations, for example.

“In the case of the Sevens, the way the city as a whole gets behind the event and the central location of Westpac Stadium mean the merits of keeping it in Wellington speaks for themselves. It is doubtful that other cities could hold the same attraction for such a two-day event mainly because of the location of their stadiums.

“We look forward to a public debate on how best to retain Wellington’s reputation as New Zealand’s events capital in the current environment,” Mr Stone concluded.

ends

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