Council shoots for big footy spend

18:25, Feb 16 2014

Rich football fans who enjoy eating out and drinking are being counted on to help create a $5 million-plus windfall when Christchurch helps host a major global sporting event next year.

But tough rules from Fifa, world football's governing body, mean the Crusaders rugby team will be a no-show for the five weeks around the under-20 men's tournament. Events like concerts are also not to feature on much of the city's calendar while the football is on.

Fifa is known for imposing strict conditions and rules, including "clean" stadiums on all events it stages worldwide. Its World Cup tournament every four years is the world's biggest sporting event. The under-20 event is Fifa's second biggest tournament, outstripping the Rugby World Cup in terms of viewership and economic impact.

Christchurch City Council papers, obtained by The Press, reveal ratepayers are contributing $700,000 towards the city hosting nine matches when the event is staged throughout New Zealand next May and June.

Fifa has insisted no other "substantial sporting event" be held during a period of five weeks so the tournament can take centre stage.

That included Super Rugby games, council officials say.


Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach did not return calls to The Press, but it is understood the 2015 Super 15 schedule, yet to be released, may involve the team's South African and Australian road trips combined with the possibility of a bye tacked on to avoid any conflict with the Fifa rule.

No other cultural event, including a music concert, is to be staged one day before and one day after each match day.

The papers also show officials expect "reasonably affluent" business people and dignitaries will help inject cash - $5m plus - into the city's hospitality and tourism sectors.

The council report said football was a "huge business overseas".

"This type of visitor will be reasonably affluent, often time rich and likely will spend some time and money in Christchurch as part of their visit. They will be diners and drinkers, they will socialise in the city's facilities and take time to visit many of the city's and region's attractions and sights."

Media interest presented a chance to show off Christchurch to the rest of the world, the report said.

The 2007 tournament in Canada was shown in more than 200 countries with a worldwide television audience of 470 million. More than 1000 accredited media, including 240 international journalists, covered the event.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase Christchurch to the world in the best possible light," the report said.

The council's $700,000, to be paid over three years, includes $500,000 direct sponsorship, $100,000 for goods and services to be bought in the city and $100,000 for "in-kind support" including marketing and staging events and functions.

Initially, the event had two possible dates - the May/June period or in November. The council preferred the November date because there would be better weather, clashes with Super 15 matches would be avoided and the city would be in "full spring bloom".

The Press