QUEENSLAND's economy could miss out on a $2 billion injection and 30,000 jobs if the Gold Coast loses its Commonwealth Games bid to rival Sri Lanka’s Hambantota.
Outgoing Bid Directorate CEO Michael Denton, says the Coast has superior supporting infrastructure and the overwhelming support of international athletes, but the result will come down to Australia’s popularity with international committees.
He fears the Coast may struggle to gain the support of African commonwealth nations. The host city will be announced on November 11, 2011.
“My message is that it is never a done deal and we’re not going to win this on the basis of sunshine, beaches and tourism - we’re going to win this on the basis of what do we deliver for the athletes and what do we deliver for the CGA’s (Commonwealth Games Associations),” he says.
“When it comes to the 70 CGA’s, everyone gets one vote so it’s very fair and equitable. But a lot of these bodies also have to organise the South Pacific Games, the Asian Games or whatever, so they are very much looking at this as ‘what’s in it for us’.
“Certainly Oceania has already said they’ll absolutely back Australia’s bid, but the way the Commonwealth is structured we really need Africa and the Caribbean to come onside if we’re going to win this.
“We need the majority of the African vote and we need the majority of the Caribbean vote. I’d be reasonably confident in terms of the Caribbean vote but Africa is a strange beast and we have a lot of work to do there to convince them that they need to support us.”
The State Government has estimated the 2018 Commonwealth Games would inject between $1.4 billion and $2 billion into the economy, though Austrade chief economist Tim Harcourt says the benefits of hosting the games would be unmeasurable in the global marketplace.
“Thinking about the nation’s brand, the whole world will be looking at us. Where there is any major sporting event on like the Commonwealth Games, the world creates a symbol for that place and that’s your peak opportunity to get new consumers,” says Harcourt.
“There are important things about creating jobs and there are important things in terms of infrastructure, but in actual fact it’s very important for the nation as a brand.
“How many times does Canada get in the press? Not often. But when Vancouver was holding the Winter Olympics you heard a lot about Canada and the country gains large trade benefits from that.
“Look at how the World Cup is getting South Africa in the news in a positive light, and that’s an important way to consider the Gold Coast’s bid for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”
Denton meanwhile reiterated Premier Bligh’s statements earlier in the year that the Commonwealth Games will bring forward essential city infrastructure projects, while existing projects such as the $126 million redevelopment of Carrara Stadium (pictured) and the development of Southport Parklands will coincide perfectly for games use.
He emphasises however that the final hurdle will be challenging to overcome and says a nationalist attitude is the key.
“One of the things the Gold Coast has to understand is that we do live in a global environment and certainly anything that comes out of the Gold Coast, whether it’s positive or negative is being monitored,” says Denton.
“This isn’t a Gold Coast bid; it is a bid of the Australian Commonwealth Games Association. The Gold Coast represents Australia, and Hambantota represents Sri Lanka.
“We need to have the Gold Coast community’s full support but we need nationally everybody else onboard. If we are going to beat Hambantota this has got to be seen as Australia’s national bid.”
Denton has been CEO of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Bid Directorate since 2008, after taking the position as head of the Sunshine Coast Tourism Destination. He will be replaced by former Australian Sports Commission boss Mark Peters within weeks.
“I’ve spent a long time building this to where it’s at and Tourism Sunshine Coast offers new challenges and for me it’s partly a career move and partly for lifestyle reasons,” he says.
“Melbourne had three CEO’s through its bid, but the great thing is I brought Mark Peters on three months ago and the bid is in very secure hands.”
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