Ratepayers refuse to pay for rally race

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IOL mot pic jan27 WRC Ramona Karlsson 1

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Ramona Karlsson, right, and navigator Miriam Walfridsson, have entered the 2012 Production World Rally championship in a black and pink Mitsubishi Evo X.

KwaZulu-Natal is in the running to host one of the world’s biggest motorsport events – the 2014 World Rally Championship (WRC) –

but ratepayers are already waving the red flag.

The international event, for which Brazil is competing to host, would help reinforce KZN’s spot on the tourism map, according to the provincial government and the eThekwini Municipality.

However, the Durban Combined Ratepayers Association said on Sunday that if the city had to foot the bill, it was not worth it.

“This isn’t tourism. People come in for the event and then leave,” said the association’s Lilian Develing. “The cost to the city is not worth it.”

While the cost to host such a major event has not yet been revealed, it would come close on the heels of the R31 million the city reportedly spent to host the TopGear festival, and the R20m it would pay to host next year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Kagiso Vantage, a subsidiary of Kagiso Media, is leading the charge for South Africa to act as WRC host, and will foot the bill, with the help of sponsors, to host a required candidate event in August to show its readiness.

Durban is hosting this candidate event from August 16 to 18 in the form of the fifth round of the South African National Rally Championship,

which will take place in the Valley of a 1 000 Hills, as well as on the South Coast, with the opening and closing ceremonies at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The stadium will operate as a service park, said Kagiso Vantage’s chief executive officer, Costas Constantinou.

He said the company had realised there was no legacy for South Africa after the 2010 Soccer World Cup, so at the end of last year, it submitted a bid to the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA) to host the 2013 WRC, but because of administration problems, the two bidding countries would compete for spots in the 2014 calendar.

The last international rally event Africa hosted was 10 years ago in Kenya.

“We submitted two very detailed plans covering sport and the commercial side,” Constantinou said, adding that when it came to costs, they would only involve national government once they had approval for the bid.

The successful country would be announced in February next year.

“We carry a lot of the risk and have not taken a cent from anyone yet,” he said.

KZN was chosen over Gauteng, Constantinou said, because it had a strong motorsport fraternity.

Motorsport South Africa is enthusiastic about the event, and its chairman, Steve Miller, said it would raise the profile of motorsport and boost motorsport rallies in particular.

In a recent press statement, city manager, S’bu Sithole, said that being the host city was “in line with the objectives of attracting great events to Durban, while at the same time encouraging tourism”.

DA councillor, Tex Collins, questioned the need for the city to pay for people to come to such an event.

“Sponsorships are the way to go. We will applaud any initiative that brings in genuine economy,” he said. “We hosted an international rugby match recently and the city didn’t have to pay a cent. I’m afraid the ratepayers have run out of money with all the increases they have had to face.”

Department of Economic Development and Tourism provincial spokesman, Bheko Madlala, said: ”We support all events that would put KZN on the tourism and trade map,” he said. “I won’t speak any further on costs.”

eThekwini Municipality’s spokesman, Thabo Mofokeng, said people should see the bigger picture.

“The economic spin-off far outweighs the money we would have to contribute,” he said. - Daily News

noelene.barbeau@inl.co.za


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