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What are the funding priorities in the ACT and where does sport fit into the mix?

Tim Gavel 23 September 2019 76

Sport, like the arts, is part of the culture of a place, Tim Gavel argues. File photo.

Why is it in Canberra every time ACT Government money is spent on elite sport or sporting facilities there is somewhat of a backlash?

I am writing this column in the wake of a campaign against any proposal to spend government funds on a new indoor stadium in Civic to cater for the Raiders, Brumbies and an A League team and other teams, in the future.

Some of the public comments suggested money would be better spent on health, education, the arts and roads. This is not a new response to sports funding. We have been through this in the past with spending on the upgrade of Canberra Stadium for the Olympics in 2000, the V8 Super Cars, GWS, the Raiders and the Brumbies.

Most professional clubs run at a loss and at best break even. Yet there is a perception that government funding is not justified. In most instances the government funding helps clubs break even.

That perception isn’t confined to the Raiders and the Brumbies with questions raised about using government funds to attract top level men’s and women’s cricket to the ACT or the Illawarra Hawks NBL side.

Many studies have shown the benefits of having major sporting events in Canberra. The most obvious benefit is that it improves the quality of life in the ACT for many wanting to see major events in their home city without having to travel. Sporting events also attract people to the city. Canberra offers a great alternative to many who might not want to navigate the traffic of Sydney, Melbourne, or even Brisbane. Sport can also generate business.

The growth in sports-based tourism businesses can’t be underestimated. We have experienced it first-hand with the considerable number of people coming to Canberra to watch the Raiders, Brumbies, GWS, the Socceroos, the Matildas, the Big Bash and international cricket.

There are also the aspirational and inspirational qualities associated with watching sport ‘live’ at the top level, inspiring some and entertaining others.

And sport, like the arts, is part of the culture of a place. It builds on our experiences and can bring enjoyment, pride and a host of other emotions. It can help bring about a ‘sense of place.’

Watching some of the young local athletes in numerous sports reach their goal, is incredibly fulfilling; particularly if you’ve seen them as tiny kids chasing a ball around on a chilly morning, to emerging as young highly proficient sports people. And watching them play their chosen sport at the highest level at home really does bring a sense of pride.

Then there is the flow-on influence of having major sporting teams and events in the ACT with every major sporting team funding junior development programs. This, in turn, improves the health of the next generation as they actively engage in a sport that has a recognisable pathway from juniors to elite. Along the way, recreational opportunities grow, keeping more people in a sport for longer. The social benefits, as well as the health benefits, are difficult to calculate.

Apart from the new indoor stadium, the priorities for sport include a new ice sports facility and a smaller multi-sport facility catering for events, not just sport, with a seating capacity of around 3,000.

Let the debate continue!

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76 Responses to What are the funding priorities in the ACT and where does sport fit into the mix?
Liz Barrington-Smith Liz Barrington-Smith 7:16 am 21 Jun 19

Well said Pen Gwyn!

Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 1:01 pm 20 Jun 19

And being pro light rail but anti new stadium shows the complete lack of brains about generating revenue and progress.

    Grant Binoya Pt II Grant Binoya Pt II 1:03 pm 20 Jun 19

    "why worry about generating revenue when we can just increase the rates and impose more taxes on those that choose to work?"

Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:56 pm 20 Jun 19

Greens voters are against it... the same people who are against the summernats our biggest bread winner... the same people who think anti consorting laws are wrong.. the same people who arent in any threat of having a gun battle by bikers in their street, safe and sound in north canberra demanding more and more for themselves while making the rest of the city live in squalor to pay for it.

Rad Rockford Rad Rockford 8:49 am 20 Jun 19

The capital should get a motorsport facility first if there is to be any investment in sports facilities. The capital has a very strong motorsport base as well as summernats that raises more than any other event on the calendar in the capital. That coupled with the events that a proper motorsport facility would attract to the capital, the public purse would do quite well off the back of the tourism spending as well as the obscene amounts of money that professional motorsport teams and events spend when being hosted. Canberra cannot continue to act like motorsport is a dirty thing and should be looking to benefit from it rather than turning their nose up at it and continue to just keep gouging us on rates to make money.

Chris Ellis Chris Ellis 4:58 am 20 Jun 19

The clue is the word elite. It only serves a small percentage of the population.

Brad Miller Brad Miller 9:33 pm 19 Jun 19

Build a new stadium & car park at Exhibition Park at MITCHELL as part of redeveloping the park into a major events precinct. The light rail goes there already and the Northbourne ave corridor is turning into a city like Passage from the city to Mitchell anyway. With opportunity’s for bars & cafe to open at a lot of the train stops into the city or into Gungahlin.

With GDE/Tuggeranong parkway & Horsepark drive/Majura parkway/Monaro Hwy on either side of Mitchell Exhibition Park has freeway like roads to it for south siders to get there & not clog up city streets with no parking.

    Lewis P Owlay Lewis P Owlay 7:29 am 20 Jun 19

    Good idea for gungahlin folks, not so much for the rest of us. The light rail was a mistake let’s not build key facilities around it to justify its existence

    Brad Miller Brad Miller 10:08 am 20 Jun 19

    Lewis P Owlay yeah let’s not build anything in Canberra.

    Putting in infrastructure before we build up around it is never a good idea

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:08 am 20 Jun 19

    Lewis P Owlay 🙄 These comments are getting very tired. I don't live in Gungahlin either, but I went to Gungahlin the other day. Simple, I caught the bus to Civic and then got on the light rail. It was so much better than a bus and it didn't get held up (on the return journey) by peak hour traffic, as many bus rides end up being delayed. I like the suggestion of building the stadium at Mitchell. And then leaving the Civic pool alone.

Grant Binoya Pt II Grant Binoya Pt II 8:40 pm 19 Jun 19

Julian Hayes - check out some of these comments made by numbskulls they've never been to a sports event nor have any idea that Bruce Stadium is past it's intended lifespan . . Obviously Labor/Greens sheep

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:19 pm 20 Jun 19

    Grant Binoya Pt II when I get home I'll begin making individual replies lol

Hamish Sinclair Hamish Sinclair 8:39 pm 19 Jun 19

Tuggeranong has been trying to get Govt interest in a sports and eco hub next to the town centre for years ..... crickets.

Julie Stalker Julie Stalker 6:22 pm 19 Jun 19

Why not build a stadium that accommodates not just football codes? There are so many sports that are in need of decent facilities in Canberra. Everyone forgets that the ACT doesn’t have a huge population yet we are very sport minded and involved. I’m sorry but I want to see decent community based facilities that encourage major events ... like a decent two-sheet ice rink that operates 7 days a week 52 weeks of the year ... not just seasonally, or for major events ... major events would become a part of the schedule and that includes international events.

Corey Karl Corey Karl 5:52 pm 19 Jun 19

Fix civic pool, renovate Bruce stadium, and add sone other things around the area to help attract more people to the precinct. The problem isn’t just the stadium, the problem is people drive or catch transport to watch an hour an a half of sport, getting there to watch something for that amount of time is more often than not, too much of a hassle.... if there were areas around to perhaps drink and eat and meet friends a few hours before the game, and after, and the stadium was a bit more comfortable to watch sport in, I think more people would go !!

    Tim Saisell Tim Saisell 5:57 pm 19 Jun 19

    Corey Karl but would you open a bar that only gets used 20 odd times a year? Why not take to the areas that are already set up with these precincts?

    Corey Karl Corey Karl 6:00 pm 19 Jun 19

    Tim Saisell if there was units built above the bar to help populate the area, that also helps the gov insatiable appetite for unit development

    Tim Saisell Tim Saisell 6:15 pm 19 Jun 19

    Corey Karl plenty of units there already on only 1 bar that isn’t that busy on non game nights

    Corey Karl Corey Karl 6:27 pm 19 Jun 19

    Tim Saisell well it’s miles away lol,

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:23 pm 20 Jun 19

    The pool cant be fixed...

Alison Gerrard Alison Gerrard 5:09 pm 19 Jun 19

Upgrade the existing stadium. It's ready and definitely waiting. For those uptight about Canberra's cold, these handwarmers are under $2 at Bunnings.

There are other priorities in Canberra before thinking about a 400 mill spend on a new stadium in a tight squeeze within the CBD

JS9 JS9 4:41 pm 19 Jun 19

I have no issue at all if people want to directly comment on matters where they have a clear vested interest/direct involvement through their work etc, and that includes presenting the views of the organisation you work for – go for your life. But this isn’t the first time at all that a similar thing has been seen on this website, where people are not upfront about that. Just because someone has a public profile in some segments of the community, doesn’t mean everyone automatically will know who you are from a pseudonym that is far from obvious.

My opinions, like most on here, are solely my own. If I was presenting the views of the organisation I work for (though I doubt I ever will, as I can not ever recall a topic directly related to my workplace ever being raised on this website) or have a direct influence/impact on an issue, then I’ll be the first to declare said views are not necessarily solely my own, and that I have a vested interest in the topic. It is not an unreasonable request.

    Pen Gwyn Pen Gwyn 7:49 pm 20 Jun 19

    JS9 I left a post on the Burger article. I worked at McDonalds when I was 16. It was where my love affair of the delicious Big Mac began… my opinion therefore I must once again confess relates to my lived and work experience… I am no longer paid but forever I will be loyal to the arches golden.

Gwyn Rees Gwyn Rees 2:47 pm 19 Jun 19

For the benefit of RiotACT commentor JS9, who appears aggrieved that I 'this time' have commented without declaring my employment - my sincerest apologies. Gwyn Rees Chief Executive ClubsACT. Can anyone on RiotACT representing their passions, chosen profession or anywhere where there may be a perceived conflict in representing their personal views please declare so. I otherwise will task myself with better pseudonym then Pen Gwyn maybe JS10!

Tracey Crump Tracey Crump 2:43 pm 19 Jun 19

So...we have the Canberra Stadium. When is it ever full? If we were consistently filling the Stadium, I could see the argument for a bigger/ better one, but as it is, that's not an issue. We are able to host international teams with what we have, so why not spend the $$ on health and public education improvements??

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:52 pm 20 Jun 19

    i bet you never go so why complain?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 1:06 pm 20 Jun 19

    Julian Hayes Probably like most people in Canberra never go.

JS9 JS9 1:21 pm 19 Jun 19

“Many studies have shown the benefits of having major sporting events in Canberra. The most obvious benefit is that it improves the quality of life in the ACT for many wanting to see major events in their home city without having to travel. Sporting events also attract people to the city. Canberra offers a great alternative to many who might not want to navigate the traffic of Sydney, Melbourne, or even Brisbane. Sport can also generate business.

The growth in sports-based tourism businesses can’t be underestimated. We have experienced it first-hand with the considerable number of people coming to Canberra to watch the Raiders, Brumbies, GWS, the Socceroos, the Matildas, the Big Bash and international cricket.”

There is some truth to this. But there is also a fallacy that having big events = automatically great net benefits to the Territory. The supercar fiasco being the perfect example of this. I’d also argue an independent analysis of the investment made into the big codes (especially what is paid for the privilige of Giants playing here) may show the returns are not indeed that great from investment into elite level sport per say.

I’d certainly welcome less government funding going to professional sporting codes and more going into community based sporting organisations, combined with a subsequent reduction in the reliance on poker machine profits to fund many of those valuable sporting organisations. Would be a good story all around.

JS9 JS9 1:19 pm 19 Jun 19

“In 2015 La Trobe University, Centre for Sport and Social Impact reported on the ‘Value of a Community Football Club’ and concluded that “For every $1 spent on a community football club, there is at least $4.40 return in social value.”. The study also found significant social, health, community and economic outcomes from investment in football clubs.

This all said it is bewildering that a scheme that has existed to relieve the taxpayer of the sports bill burden has also come under sustained attack. The debate about the community contributions of ACT Clubs saw criticism being levelled at clubs by some (including an author of this site) for targeting too much funding towards sport. But the contributions toward sport are not ‘out of kilter with what the community expects.’ Quite the contrary, it is exactly what the community needs.”

This is conflating two very seperate issues. Yes Canberra’s community clubs fund sport in the Territory. But the $4.40 figure was directly related to a study of football clubs themselves in Victoria – i.e. the sporting team organisation itself, not any related community club that, in almost every circumstance, also operates poker machines. This should not be seen as a proxy for the value of the community club sector in the Territory, who undoubtedly also have a not insignificant negative impact on a portion of our community.

It is undoubtedly true that the community club sector does play a significant role within the funding of non-elite level sport in the Territory. But it does not need to be the case – sport would not cease to exist without them, as the Government could always choose to fund it.

As always, it would be great if people could be honest with who they are and who they represent in their comments.

Jessica Brisbane Jessica Brisbane 12:59 pm 19 Jun 19

If the clubs want a new stadium, let them pay for it.

    Pat Moran Pat Moran 1:49 pm 19 Jun 19

    Jessica Brisbane

    That’s like saying of there’s a pothole outside your house that’s causing you some inconvenience you should pay to have it fixed. Don’t be a hater Jessica.....

    Jessica Brisbane Jessica Brisbane 2:01 pm 19 Jun 19

    Pat Moran no, It's saying I shouldn't pay you to build a new house for yourself.

Dory Johns Dory Johns 12:41 pm 19 Jun 19

“Most professional clubs run at a loss ...” Seriously supposed to believe this? Pay them less then.

    Scott Peters Scott Peters 4:02 pm 19 Jun 19

    Dory Johns why not just proclaim to the world..."I hate football" and be done with it. Stop bleating and whining.

Dory Johns Dory Johns 12:37 pm 19 Jun 19

Because there is already a much-loved and much-used swimming pool that should be cared for and contrary to what Barr and his cohort think the world does not revolve around football.

    Gee Jay Gee Jay 1:33 pm 19 Jun 19

    Dory Johns it does revolve around footy a bit more than a swimming pool though!

    Dory Johns Dory Johns 2:41 pm 19 Jun 19

    Gee. May be perceived to be so but not correct. Swimming is Australia's number 1 sport.

    Football in its various persuasions way down the list.

    Lewis P Owlay Lewis P Owlay 7:32 am 20 Jun 19

    Dory Johns not in terms of $

    Rad Rockford Rad Rockford 8:52 am 20 Jun 19

    Lewis P Owlay no one wants to think of the money. Everyone wants to think of their own personal opinions. The same reason we have no motorsport facility and will end up losing the summernats as a result. The nats brings in more money over 4 days for the capital than what civic pool would in 10 years.

    Lewis P Owlay Lewis P Owlay 10:49 am 20 Jun 19

    Rad Rockford agreed mate! Not that many people will miss the pool compared to how many would enjoy a world class sporting stadium right in the city. It could even draw in some bigger music acts who bypass the capital on their tours..

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:57 pm 20 Jun 19

    The pool is barely used.. its like manuka pool what 30 oldies use it regularly? its leaking and will cost tens of millions to fix. move on.

Muzammil Ali Muzammil Ali 12:09 pm 19 Jun 19

The only backlash I’ve ever seen to sport in the ACT is the rollicking laughter when I mention that our key rectangular stadium infrastructure crumbles while we waste millions wooing a financially crippled AFL team that western Sydney has rejected ...

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 12:57 pm 20 Jun 19

    100% that franchise gets canned within 8 years.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 1:26 pm 20 Jun 19

    The increase in AFL TV rights because of that team in Sydney funds the giants.

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 1:35 pm 20 Jun 19

    They should move it to Albury/Wodonga they could still have the Canberran membership no worries its 2 hours down the road and itd have a much better localized supporter base than western sydney. The majority of sydneys afl supporters live in the eastern burbs and support the swans, and then with ethnicity most people out west play league or soccer. Be better off having a team in regional nsw as thats where afl is played predominately in nsw.

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 1:50 pm 20 Jun 19

    Ben Jones 100+ years before tassie gets a team in any league. It cant cope with 20k people coming over for the Targa already.

    Muzammil Ali Muzammil Ali 1:53 pm 20 Jun 19

    Julian Hayes I honestly don’t mind where it goes as long as my rates aren’t being wasted on it. Feel bad that Tassie wants a team, Western Sydney doesn’t - given the TV cash, location is irrelevant so it should be moved

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 1:53 pm 20 Jun 19

    Julian Hayes I’ll take you up on your bet about the Giants in 8 years though ..... 😉

    Julian Hayes Julian Hayes 1:55 pm 20 Jun 19

    Ben Jones Titians in GC as well within 8 years. It'll be turned into a new QLD franchise.

    Ben Jones Ben Jones 2:03 pm 20 Jun 19

    suns will be gone in 8 years. GWS will survive.

    Muzammil Ali Muzammil Ali 2:40 pm 20 Jun 19

    Ben Jones massive shame about GWS

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