'Ebenezer' blamed after fanzone plan abandoned
Should Hamiton City Council reconsider its move to not allow a proposed Super Rugby Fanzone in Hood St on Saturday night?
An "Ebenezer Scrooge attitude" by Hood St business owners has forced Hamilton City Council to can its plans for a Super Rugby final fanzone. The sudden U-turn has prompted a public backlash.
Lawrenson Group director John Lawrenson has attracted the most anger, with calls online for the chain of bars to be boycotted over his stance.
Plans to close Hood St for a Super Rugby final fanzone were pulled by council staff just minutes before councillors met yesterday to discuss it.
A group of Hood St business owners complained they were not consulted over the idea proposed by Lawrenson Group bar rival Phoenix Group and some threatened the council with an injunction if the plan was not pulled.
Council staff said there was no time for the usual consultation process because of the short turnaround once it became known the city was hosting the final.
The city council still plans to host a "family" fanzone in Garden Place and yesterday an unnamed Hamilton businessman offered $10,000 to help pay for a big screen in the square.
Mr Lawrenson told the council that was an appropriate place for a fanzone.
"It's always the same couple of individuals that are consulted, the street's closed for their benefit, and their benefit only, and the rest of us suffer."
Phoenix Group director Jason Macklow said that his company would pay the entire cost, and blamed "professional jealousy" for the complaints.
"I think this final has the potential to be bigger than the Rugby World Cup. We were willing to pay for the entire event, and from a commercial perspective that's not the most intelligent decision I've ever made."
"I think it's a shame that the city gets bullied around," Mr Macklow said. "I want to live in a city that celebrates these things . . . The city needs to get behind these events and if we can't get our act together to embrace this it's a huge shame.
"Hamilton is going to be on the world scene and what are we going to do? There should be a fanzone," he said.
He still planned to host his own fanzone with a big screen next to House bar for the public to watch.
City councillor Angela O'Leary was among those weighing into the issue online, commenting that Mr Lawrenson was "the same bar owner who made comments to the Times after Hamilton hosted Ireland and the home RWC games that his bars did three times the turnover and [that] takings smashed the V8s takings. On both those occasions of obvious success for him Hood St was closed. This is a time to celebrate an enormous achievement by our stunning Chiefs . . . not an Ebenezer Scrooge attitude."
Cullens restaurant owner Andrew Cullen said his opposition stemmed from the lack of consultation, and an apparent belief that closing Hood St was good for all its businesses.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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