Hamilton’s landing a leg of the World Rugby Sevens Series has helped exorcise some of the ghosts of the V8 saga, according to Hamilton’s deputy-mayor Martin Gallagher.
Speaking at a council Finance Committee meeting days after the announcement, Mr Gallagher said hopefully the city is now getting over its “trauma of the V8s” and getting back into the flow of winning events.
Hamilton hosted the ITM Hamilton 400 from 2008 and 2012 and although the event had some terrific highs, it became mired in financial difficulties and left ratepayers exposed to millions of dollars of debt.
Mr Gallagher’s view was shared by several other councillors and mayor Andrew King who emphasised the event comes at no cost to the ratepayer.
“I’m very excited for Hamilton. The council is making the stadium available at a time when it would have been empty on that weekend at no cost to the ratepayers. The financial rewards through this are huge.”
Council general manager, venues, tourism and major events group, Sean Murray said the council’s only role in the event is providing the stadium at no cost.
We won’t be collecting a hirage for the venue so in that respect there’s no upside for the accounts but there’s an upside for the city,” he said.
NZR has partnered with 37 South, FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton City Council and the Chiefs to host the tournament in Hamilton in early February 2018 and 2019.
37 South managing director Dallas Fisher said he was delighted to be part of the event.
“The planning starts now and we have some big ideas to ensure sevens becomes the hottest ticket in town.
At FMG Stadium Waikato we can segment audiences so party goers, families and rugby fans can all enjoy the event and entertainment in their own space.
“We will take all the best aspects of the two-day event and add our own special flavour of entertainment and experiences.
“We are asking fans for their input via the NZ Sevens Facebook page where they are welcome to share their ideas and wishlists.”
Mayor King welcomed the news.
“Hamilton has excellent credentials when it comes to stadia-based major events. Over the last few years we’ve delivered successful matches in three World Cups across three sports, All Blacks tests, Super Rugby semis and finals, as well as international cricket,” he said.
“We’re looking forward to showcasing our city and region and the fantastic attractions to visiting fans while they’re in town for what will be a great new event for Hamilton. Come and make a weekend of it. Hamilton is proud to be able to support the event through the provision of FMG Stadium Waikato – this is what the stadium was built for.”
New Zealand Rugby chief strategy and operations officer Nigel Cass said moving the internationl tournament from Wellington was not a decision made lightly, but it was time to start a new chapter for the tournament in New Zealand.
“We delivered 18 years of good times and great tournaments in the capital, thanks to the exceptional teams we worked with at Wellington City Council, WREDA, Westpac Stadium, police, hospitality industry and our fantastic volunteers. I have nothing but praise for all those who contributed to the Wellington Sevens for almost two decades.”
Mr Murray said he was talking to many stakeholders in the city to promote things that visitors can do while they are in Hamilton.
“We will be leaning heavily on Hamilton & Waikato Tourism and the Hamilton CBD Association.”
Mr Murray also noted that the outdoor concert circuit was coming back and there is a possibility FMG Stadium Waikato might host one of these events in the future.