Fi­nan­cial night­mare

R200m Iron­man bill set to soar as metro to fund items, in­clud­ing:

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Odette Parfitt parfitto@ti­soblack­star.co.za

A 3 000m² vil­lage to ac­com­mo­date ven­dor booths In­ter­na­tional flights, hun­dreds of ho­tel rooms and a huge pasta party A 4 000m² sup­ply de­pot to or­gan­ise event sup­plies and trucks A 500m² area for VIP guests near the fin­ish line

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL flights, hun­dreds of ho­tel rooms and a mas­sive pasta party – these are just some of the ex­penses for which Nel­son Man­dela Bay must foot the bill when it hosts the Iron­man 70.3 World Cham­pi­onship next year. And while the cost for a myr­iad re­quire­ments has been es­ti­mated at R8-mil­lion by or­gan­is­ers, there are fears it could in­crease six­fold. The re­quire­ments are de­tailed in the host city agree­ment be­tween Iron­man and the metro, and range from flights to ac­com­mo­da­tion and a ban­quet mar­quee for nearly 5 000 guests. This is over and above the R200-mil­lion the metro has yet to source to fund road up­grades along the planned route for the cham­pi­onship, set to be held in the Bay in Septem­ber next year, MMC for bud­get and trea­sury Retief Oden­daal con­firmed.

A pro­posal to foot R13-mil­lion of this bill by bor­row­ing funds set aside for road resur­fac­ing in other wards has been dis­cussed at length in coun­cil and the metro’s bud­get and trea­sury com­mit­tee meet­ings, but no de­ci­sion has been reached yet.

Mean­while, mayor Athol Trol­lip was said to be hard at work to source the re­main­ing R187-mil­lion from ex­ter­nal sources.

How­ever, the metro is ex­pected to pro­vide much more than just im­proved roads and mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to the lengthy agree­ment.

The doc­u­ment stip­u­lates that the metro would have to set aside R8-mil­lion to cover var­i­ous ex­penses through its direc­torates.

Though this in­cludes ba­sic ser­vices such as se­cu­rity and traf­fic ser­vices, as­sis­tance in swim safety and waste man­age­ment, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is also re­spon­si­ble for se­cur­ing 340 ho­tel rooms – at no cost to Iron­man – for race week, with a fur­ther 50 rooms needed for Iron­man staff prior to the race.

Be­yond this, the metro has to pay for del­e­gates from Iron­man in the US to visit the city three times and per­form in­spec­tions of the metro’s progress.

The pro­vi­sion of a mar­quee, to be used for a ban­quet for 4 750 guests, will also be the metro’s re­spon­si­bil­ity at a price tag of R650 000. An­other R1-mil­lion will be con­trib­uted to a live tele­vi­sion broad­cast of the event on Su­perS­port.

Other items the mu­nic­i­pal­ity is ex­pected to pay for in­clude:

ý A 3 000m² iron­man vil­lage to ac­com­mo­date ven­dor booths;

ý A 4 000m² sup­ply de­pot to or­gan­ise event sup­plies and trucks;

ý A 1 000m² ath­letes’ gar­den close to the fin­ish line;

ý A cen­tre to ac­com­mo­date 100m² me­dia houses;

ý A 500m² area for VIP guests near the fin­ish line; and ý A 1 00m² race of­fice for of­fi­cials. The metro al­ready paid a spon­sor­ship fee of R7.8-mil­lion ear­lier this year, which in­cluded fi­nance for an awards func­tion and pasta party at a cost of R1.1-mil­lion.

In re­turn, the metro will re­ceive 80 VIP tick­ets from Iron­man, along with the “in­di­rect com­mer­cial and other ben­e­fits” that the event will bring. The cor­po­ra­tion will also do­nate ap­prox­i­mately $50 000 (about R800 000 de­pend­ing on the ex­change rate at the time) to a lo­cal char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tion af­ter the event.

How­ever, Oden­daal is adamant the event will bring count­less other ben­e­fits to the city.

“Only a fool wouldn’t re­alise the ben­e­fits this will have for the city,” Oden­daal said.

“Dur­ban just spent R110-mil­lion for their bid for the Com­mon­wealth Games and they weren’t suc­cess­ful.

“All over the coun­try, met­ros fall over their feet to be able to at­tract these kinds of events. The ben­e­fit Iron­man is bring­ing to us is that we can host this event.”

Oden­daal said the event would bring an es­ti­mated R400-mil­lion in rev­enue to the metro, along with job op­por­tu­ni­ties for un­em­ployed res­i­dents.

“Cre­at­ing jobs is a di­rect ben­e­fit for our city. We’re go­ing to grow the econ­omy [by] grow­ing the tourism in­dus­try.

“Mil­lions of peo­ple will watch the event world­wide. That kind of mar­ket­ing you can­not buy – and this will pos­si­bly be the sin­gle big­gest ben­e­fit of the whole event.”

Nox­olo Nqwazi, the metro’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of sport, recre­ation, arts and cul­ture, said it was a “strate­gic de­ci­sion” for the metro to in­vest in Iron­man and other sport­ing events.

“One ath­lete par­tic­i­pat­ing in Iron­man will bring his family and coaches, which means 4 500 ath­letes will amount to nearly 16 000 [visi­tors] in the metro,” Nqwazi said.

Re­gard­ing the ex­penses the metro has to in­cur, Nqwazi con­firmed the metro was pay­ing for flights for two Iron­man rep­re­sen­ta­tives to eval­u­ate their progress.

“How­ever, we are not pay­ing for the 340 ho­tel rooms, as that will be of­fered by ho­tels in the area.”

Though the list of con­trac­tual com­mit­ments in­cluded the planned road up­grades, Nqwazi said the metro spent three months on the agree­ment to en­sure their costs would not ex­ceed R8-mil­lion.

“Half of the R8-mil­lion will be [in the form of] our own mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices, in­clud­ing beach in­fra­struc­ture and safety ser­vices. The R8-mil­lion will be in­cluded in the 2018/19 bud­get.”

Oden­daal also said the metro would bud­get for any other “in­ci­den­tal costs” that may arise.

“The con­tract is ab­so­lutely stan­dard and in line with the re­quire­ments [of other events]. When host­ing an event, one ex­pects there to be cer­tain re­quire­ments and a city would have to de­cide ac­cord­ing to eco­nomic ben­e­fit [if it is worth it], but it is worth the ben­e­fit to us.”

How­ever, Rory Riordan, ANC coun­cil­lor and for­mer head of the bud­get and trea­sury com­mit­tee un­der the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion, had his mis­giv­ings about the agree­ment.

“Whether it is in this year’s bud­get or the next, it is still a lot of money to spend on a two-day event,” Riordan said. “A lot of the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties set out [in the con­tract] are not in­cluded in the R8-mil­lion and the ex­penses are much more com­pli­cated.

“With all they have to do, [I’d es­ti­mate the ex­penses would be] on the wrong side of R50-mil­lion.”

Keith Bowler, manag­ing di­rec­tor for Iron­man Africa, said the metro was cho­sen fol­low­ing a stan­dard bid process. “It is Iron­man’s pol­icy not to dis­close any fur­ther de­tails of the host venue agree­ments,” Bowler said.

Mean­while, tourism as­so­ci­a­tions in the metro are ex­cited about the in­flux of guests ex­pected dur­ing the event.

“It will re­ally bring huge num­bers,” pre­dicted Shena Wil­mot, chair­woman of the Port El­iz­a­beth Metro Bed and Break­fast Ac­com­mo­da­tion.

“It’s a very im­por­tant event that will make a big dif­fer­ence for the city’s tourism, and we hope the peo­ple [who visit the city] will go home and tell oth­ers about the city, so we’ll have more visi­tors com­ing here.”

Tourism ex­pert Peter Myles also said the metro’s planned in­vest­ment would re­ceive an ex­cel­lent re­turn.

“An in­vest­ment of R8-mil­lion will gen­er­ate a re­turn of R233-mil­lion, based on [data from] pre­vi­ous events,” Myles said.

“There are [also] hid­den ben­e­fits. Host­ing the world cham­pi­onships is an en­dorse­ment of the city’s claim to be­ing the ‘Wa­ter Sport Cap­i­tal of South Africa’. This en­dorse­ment usu­ally means the city has a bet­ter chance of at­tract­ing sim­i­lar events.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: WERNER HILLS

COMIC RELIEF: Trea­sure Land Play Park in Walmer had a movie char­ac­ters and mas­cots even­ing this week. Show­ing which fic­tional hero they pre­fer were Rox­anne Miller, Cole Miller, 2, and Al­fred Den­nis dressed up as Bat­man and Bat­woman

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