Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report



Visit to British Olympic Association training facilities on the Gold Coast

    Mr Mick Aitken, Managing Director, mja Matchpoint and Executive Manager, British Olympic Preparation Camps, Australia, Mr Ray McNab, Manager, Community and Recreational Facilities, Gold Coast City Council, and Councillor Gary Baildon, Mayor of the Gold Coast

75. The selection of the Gold Coast by the BOA. Mr Aitken said that, of the approximately 200 teams travelling to the Sydney Olympics, the British Olympic team organisers had been the first to consider the need of their athletes in Australia. The British Olympic Association (BOA) had grasped at an early stage the implications of Australia's population size; the sporting facilities available were those for a small resident population; in the USA, by comparison, there had been many choices in terms of pre-Olympic training facilities. The BOA had secured a deal which was superior to that available to any other visiting team. It had encouraged a $10 million (£4 million) investment by the Gold Coast City Council and the Queensland Government in sports facilities which might not otherwise have happened.

76. The advantages for the British team. Mr Aitken explained that the Gold Coast provided the opportunity for a unified training base for British teams in 23 Olympic sports with all facilities being no more than a 15-minute drive from the team hotel. (Sailing and shooting teams would be based elsewhere and equestrian competitors would not arrive in advance). It enabled the British team to adapt to the time change while remaining away from Sydney in the pre-Olympic period. It enabled them to take advantage of the best winter climate in Australia.

77. The benefits to the Gold Coast. Mr McNab said that the Gold Coast City Council saw several benefits from the presence of the British team. First, it provided a catalyst for the development of new and improved sporting facilities for the local population. Second, there was the direct economic benefit from the attendance of the British teams for the Olympics and the Paralympics and those accompanying them. Third, it offered a chance to promote the Gold Coast as a tourism destination, drawing upon the media presence during the preparation period. Finally, there was likely to be a benefit arising from interaction with the local community which would benefit local sport.

78. The facilities. Mr Aitken explained that the BOA had secured sole and exclusive use at agreed times before the Olympic Games of a range of superb facilities. Those visited by the Committee were:

    Griffith University Gold Coast Campus athletics track: a 400-metre track constructed in 1998 following the agreement with the BOA;

    The Gold Coast Hockey Centre: a hockey field developed with the same surface as that at Homebush Bay; and

    Hinze Dam International rowing course: a full-length Olympic rowing course with full competition facilities.

Meeting with the Queensland Events Corporation

    Mr Michael Denton, Chief Executive, Queensland Events Corporation, and Mr Campbell Rose, Chief Executive, Brisbane 2001 Goodwill Games

79. The establishment of the Company. The establishment of the Queensland Events Corporation reflected recognition that events were playing an increasing role in tourism. Impetus for its creation had been given by the 1988 Expo and the realisation of the boost to Brisbane which that event had provided. Its objective was to attract major national and international events to Queensland. The Corporation's main criteria for supporting events were that they attracted a large number of visitors from other States or from overseas and that they profiled Queensland nationally or internationally, usually through television.

80. Management and funding of the Corporation. Queensland Events was a Proprietary Limited Company. It was owned and funded by the Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing of Queensland; the Minister of Tourism, Sport and Racing appointed members of the Board. The original idea had been that the Corporation would run events itself and be self-financing, but it soon become clear that it would never be directly self-financing. It had a budget of $7.5 million (£3 million), but much of this was already committed to particular events, most notably the Goodwill Games.

81. The scope of work. The Corporation covered major events and was State-wide. It attempted to assist events suited to smaller centres as well as events for Brisbane and the Gold Coast, although most small centres lacked the necessary infrastructure to support major events. Queensland Events was involved not only in the bidding process, but also in providing assistance in the organisation of events themselves. They assisted organisers in targeting sponsors and also made a direct financial investment in an event. They agreed a contract with organisers specifying both how money should be spent and what benefits were expected. Often the Corporation worked with an existing event which wished to develop its profile and sponsorship. The Corporation was not concerned directly with facilities; it sought to focus on existing facilities; the development of new ones was for the Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing.

82. Sporting and non-sporting events. The Corporation's Charter covered both sporting and non-sporting events. Some of the events were cultural or took the form of conventions. Nevertheless, 80 per cent of the events were sporting and this was in part the consequence of the criterion relating to out-of-State visitors.

83. The 2001 Goodwill Games. In 2001 the Goodwill Games would be held outside the United States of America or Russia for the first time. This was part of an effort to increase the profile of the event. Brisbane's track record in major events had helped it to secure the Games. Special additional funding had been granted by the Cabinet for the Games. Government involvement had been essential to the success of the bid. There had to be financial guarantees and guaranteed control of facilities; these could not be offered by either the private sector or Brisbane City Council. The extent of Federal Government involvement in and support for these Games was still a matter of discussion.

84. The benefits of events. The economic benefits of events were not always easy to measure. But there was a definite benefit to local companies from regular events such as the Gold Coast IndyCar event. That event in 1996 had provided added value of $40 million (£16 million) in Australia as well as an income of $15 million (£6 million).

85. Inter-State competition. There was a great deal of competition between States for events. There would be media criticism if an event was lost to another State. It was the general policy of Queensland Events not to invest in risky bids against other States or to become a party to a "Dutch auction" involving other States.

Visit to the ANZ Stadium

    Mr Stephen Sharry, Manager, Major Venues Brisbane

86. The origins and role of Major Venues Brisbane. The venues built or up-graded for the 1982 Commonwealth Games had been funded from Federal, State and City sources. Federal and State authorities had had no interest in their long-term use and had handed them over to Brisbane City Council. In total, the Council had major venues valued at $450 million (£180 million), but some had not been built with long-term use in mind. Until the early 1990s some were under-used and expensive to operate. Major Venues Brisbane was established to manage the venues on a commercial basis. It managed arts and entertainment as well as sporting venues.

87. Commercialisation. Major Venues Brisbane had adopted several measures to generate commercial income. A sports club had been established at the ANZ Stadium which was a major source of income. Other profitable avenues included merchandising and sports health. Private management was sometimes involved on a leasing basis as a way to attract additional investment. Major Venues also provided consultancy services. A greater emphasis on entertainment rather than sporting use had played a crucial role in generating additional revenue.

88. The role of events. Major Venues Brisbane cooperated closely with the Queensland Events Corporation in attracting events and managing venues for events. It also sought events itself such as pop concerts. The ANZ would be up-graded for the 2001 Goodwill Games, with the installation of a new track.

Meeting with Mr Bill Grant, Chief Executive, South Bank Corporation

89. The impact of the Brisbane Expo. There had been two defining moments in the recent history of Brisbane—the 1982 Commonwealth Games and the 1988 Expo. Together they had changed the way Brisbane people saw themselves and their own expectations. They had shown that Brisbane could be a player on the world stage. Brisbane would not have been able to win the 2001 Goodwill Games without the track-record in managing major events which it was able to demonstrate as a result of the Expo.

90. The South Bank site. The South Bank was where the city of Brisbane had started. It had been a typical waterfront development. It had languished in recent years. The City Council and the State Government had selected the site for the Expo with the original intention of disposal for private development thereafter. The site had become so popular and such an icon for the city during the Expo that a public outcry had ensured that it remained in public hands. The centre of the site was the parkland with a beach and a free swimming pool. This park attracted 5 million visitors a year and was the centre of celebratory events in the city. Other elements of the site were the performing arts centre, the music centre and the Convention Centre.

Visit to the Brisbane Entertainment Centre

    Mr John Bennett, General Manager, Brisbane Entertainment Centre

91. The Brisbane Entertainment Centre was designed as part of the Brisbane bid for the 1992 Olympics. It opened in February 1986. It had been used for the 1994 World Gymnastics Championships. Its principal uses were for entertainment and sport. It was used as an exhibition and conference centre, but, following the opening of the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, some of that business had been transferred there. The Sports Centre located within the Brisbane Entertainment Centre was primarily for community rather than professional use. The key to the Centre's success as a venue was its flexibility. It was successfully managed by a private Management company, Ogden IFC, without any subsidy, although Brisbane City Council owned the facility and met capital costs.

Visit to Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

    Mr Bob O'Keeffe, General Manager, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

92. The Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre was built by the Queensland Government on a site owned by the South Bank Corporation. It had opened in 1995. Since its opening it had made an operating profit. Its principal sporting use was as a venue for professional basketball; the timetable for basketball fixtures was developed around the convention timetable since the latter had a much longer lead time.

Meeting with Mr David Williams, Director-General, Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing

93. The role of events in Australia. In seeking events Australia always faced the problem of distance. This was one factor behind the need for Government involvement which did not apply in the case of the United Kingdom. Both Australia as a whole and each of its States had seen a need to promote their international profile. Events were a relatively cheap form of tourist promotion. They were also attractive to politicians. Events were inter-twined with other elements of an attractive destination, such as cultural activities.

94. The impact of the Brisbane Commonwealth Games. In the 1970s Brisbane had been an introspective and conservative town. There had been little confidence that it could manage the Commonwealth Games in 1982; it had had only limited facilities and little experience. However, the Games had proved to be the most successful to date. They had been the only Commonwealth Games to make an operating profit. They had changed attitudes in Brisbane overnight. Brisbane then staged the World Expo in 1988. South East Queensland became the fastest growth area in Australia. Brisbane had been transformed.

95. The role of events corporations. The most important element in the success of events corporations was the involvement of people with the right expertise. They tended to have a high profile in Australia. There were considerable risks associated with events; the 2001 Goodwill Games, for example, were a highly speculative venture. The crucial commitment was that of Government itself. Judged in terms of the bottom line, events did not make a profit. Their success had to be judged in the light of their wider media and economic impact.

96. Sports events and sporting performance. There could be little doubt that staging events increased interest in sport and thus participation. In addition, events led to improved facilities to cater for increased participation.

97. The bidding process. As the benefits of events became more evident and certain events became more sought after, more bids emerged. It was hard to see how an alternative to the bidding process could be developed. The management of some international sports federations was less than ideal and they sought to profit from growing demand. In the case of the World Athletics Championships, the IAAF retained substantial rights fees for granting the event. In a case such as that, it was important to examine whether the economic benefits from hosting the event were sufficient to justify the investment in the event.

98. The role of the Department. The Department of Tourism, Sport and Racing was an economic portfolio. The leisure industries were major and growing industries and an important source of job creation since they were labour intensive. The Department funded sports programmes for élite and participatory sport. It operated a Sport and Recreation Benefit Fund from the part of the proceeds of a tax on poker machines. It provided $47 million (£18.8 million) a year in support for the Queensland Tourist and Travel Agency, which generated a similar amount from its wholesale travel business.

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Prepared 19 May 1999