Bigwigs tip Games bonanza for Queenstown

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Major corporate partners and sponsors of Queenstown and Wanaka’s Winter Games are tipping big spin-offs for the region – and property market.

Audi quattro Winter Games NZ chairman Sir Eion Edgar’s funny aside at last Thursday’s opening that property prices will rise 10 per cent thanks to global TV coverage is being treated as no joke.

New Games partner and global sports media giant IMG is distributing daily 30-minute highlights packages to 36 broadcasters worldwide – and one of IMG’s Australasian bigwigs says he’s so excited at the event’s potential he’s looking to invest in real estate.

Told about Sir Eion’s property prices quip, visiting IMG Australia and NZ managing director Martin Jolly tells Mountain Scene: “He’s absolutely right – I’m making a point while here of spending some time with a real estate agent.

“Property prices I’m sure will rise because of this. This is all about destination marketing for tourism – that’s the main thing.

“It’s an event that’s being taken to the world through IMG, has a blue-chip sponsor in Audi – and it’s only going to get bigger.”

Jolly adds: “People are coming from all over for it, so it’s not a bad time to invest.”

IMG is contracted to distribute TV highlights for the 2015 and 2017 Games, and Jolly says 60 IMG executives globally are selling it to broadcasters, getting good coverage in Asia, United States and Europe.

“There’s potential to grow it. Our sales team realise it’s world-class and are very confident about 2015 and beyond.”

Audi NZ boss Dean Sheed, an Arrowtown property owner, says a 10 per cent price rise might be bullish but the Games has to be good for the economy: “From taxi drivers to the airport, there are people everywhere.”

Audi, the Games’ first naming sponsor, has a one-year contract with first right of renewal.

Sheed says a decision to continue will be considered two months after the Games when research is complete.
“As long as the Key Performance Indicators are met I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t continue. The delivery of it so far has been outstanding. The Games management crew have delivered on what they said – the media has arrived, the athletes have arrived.”

The Games, which cost $5.2 million to put on across Queenstown, Wanaka and Naseby, are estimated to have an economic benefit to the region of $10m.

A big chunk of the cost is spent on TV production and distribution which has been tripled from $320,000 in 2011 to $900,000 this time.

Games chief executive Arthur Klap says IMG is getting $250,000 to globally promote the Games, a key Olympics lead-up event, and it’s worth it.

“Because the event is for the benefit of the region, we have to get it out there. Over $1m is spent on TV production and distribution – you could cut that easily and we’d have very few financial issues but it’d be the end of the Games.”

Klap says he’s aiming for bigger sponsors and would love Audi Germany to sign.

IMG’s Jolly says it could become the biggest event Queenstown has: “We hope other quality companies in NZ will get on board like Audi and help grow it. We can’t do it alone and we’ll ensure they’ll get value for their investment.”

Last week, top US team coach Mike Jankowski likened the Games to the Winter Olympics but with “deeper” athlete fields because national quota restrictions don’t apply. This year’s Games has attracted high-profile names like global snowboarding star Shaun White – who has since gone home after a training injury – and British adaptive slalom competitor Heather Mills, the ex-wife of Beatle Sir Paul McCartney.