Cricket comes at high price

Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell has sent an email to NSW Cricket manager Matthew Mott asking if they would like to chip in any money to cover Council’s $168,000 loss from the Festival of Cricket.

The NSW Blues won $2.7 million in the Indian Champions League after playing a warm-up tournament in Lismore against Victoria and Tasmania. But the attendances at the games in Lismore were well below what was anticipated and Council was left to cover the costs.

Mayor Dowell said she sent the email to Mr Mott on November 9, but hadn’t received a reply.

She told The Echo she had congratulated the Blues on their win and asked, in a good-natured way, if there would be any money to help cover Council’s loss.

“I also said in the email that Council might think twice (about hosting the event again) because of the loss,” she said.

But Council voted at its last meeting to make an application to hold the event again next year.

Matthew Mott did not wish to make any comment to The Echo about the loss incurred by Council, and David Townsend from Cricket NSW said as far as he was aware, there had been no request for a financial contribution.

A report was presented to Council last week analysing the costs and benefits of the Festival of Cricket and the reasons for the low attendance figures. Not surprisingly, the blame has been put down to clashes with the Masters Games, Football Far North Coast grand finals and the Lismore Cup. There were also dust storms on two days and a university study week.

The report identified that the teams, spectators and stakeholders were happy with the venue, the quality of the games and the management of the event and that there were “no perceived negative outcomes apart from the financial loss incurred.”

An independent report by Dr Dave Arthur of DSA Consulting Services was also provided to Council. Dr Arthur suggested that “the contract seemed skewed towards Council bearing the majority of the costs.”

“Could the terms of the contract, in retrospect, be deemed too generous to the parties involved and too onerous for Lismore Council ratepayers to be involved?” Dr Arthur asked in his report.

“To use a real estate analogy, they bought the house too expensively,” Dr Arthur told The Echo. “They haven’t done the deal right. They used a third party (Complete Sports Marketing) to negotiate the deal... It seems that Council paid for everything, the whole kit and caboodle, including accommodation and transport. To some extent that’s the nature of professional sports these days, they demand that, but there could have been some clause written into the contract that some small percentage of any winnings from the Indian Champions League came back to Council... but this is all in hindsight. If Council had made money out of this we wouldn’t be arguing about the terms of the contract.”

But Dr Arthur argued it was still a “great event for Lismore” and if it were to return, he expects word of mouth would see increased attendances.

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