In the light of the glaringly obvious negative press that has come out of the Chamber of Commerce’s survey of businesses post Rugby Test, I’ve decided that, instead of falling into the all too familiar and easy Kiwi route of negative publicity, I’ll look at the positives.
In July 2008 the All Blacks and the Springboks, possibly the two most marketable brands in world rugby played a very important test match in Dunedin. The game was a sell out and it was estimated that the match bought in several million dollars from tourists and fans. Today the Chamber of Commerce released a study that showed that over 17% of Dunedin businesses benefited economically from the test. That is brilliant. Nearly 20% of business in the Dunedin area benefited from one solitary rugby match. Imagine if we were able to get 1 regular top flight rugby test and at least one minnow test (England?) a year.
Of course the ODT reporter tried to show this as a negative thing. How can this be a negative thing, that 17% of business had positive economic benefit from a one off event? I’m sure there are business out there that just simply aren’t going to see little if any economic benefit from such events. For instance, would Nichols Landscaping really expect to see money coming into their business from a rugby test in the town? Would (actually possibly?) Suds dry-cleaning, expect to see a measurable increase in business activity? Then there are the other business that may have made money from the event without it showing up in the numbers explicitly. Case in point, a rugby test in Dunedin in the middle of winter with snow on the hills just the week before, I went out and got extra wood and coal (which I wouldn’t normally do) for the folk from the North Island whom feel that cold. How could my coal and wood people measure that increased business without me explicitly telling them in the purchase?
Of course the likes of the pubs, restaurants, motels and hotels were going to record a measurable spike in income over this weekend. If the story had read, “Hospitality Industry Hit Hard By Test” I would have been alarmed. But “leaky plumbers” or “printing business” not really showing any real increase over a rugby test is remarkable for how utterly unremarkable this news is.
Imagine if these 17% of businesses were joined by another 10-20% of businesses in other sectors whom would benefit from the hosting of events other than rugby. Just for instance imagine if the Edinburgh Military Tattoo was to come to Dunedin (quite possible). The likes of the businesses other than pubs, the Edinburgh Shop etc would see a economic plus. This is the challenge of the CST, to get as many varied activities into the new stadium and conference facility, to spread the economic benefit across the wider community. I don’t know, lets use our imagination and we managed to get the New Zealand Arboricultural Association to host the Southern Hemisphere conference here in Dunedin. Apart from the obvious immediate benefactors (Saw and Mower, and hospitality), what’s to stop some industrious folk from Middlemarch organising a bus (or 10) of delegates heading in land to run workshops in some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. That’s called business initiative and positive economic impact.
Still as I keep saying time and time again, we are only limited by our imagination (and seemingly there is a huge lack of imagination out there).