The man behind Queenstown’s failed bid to host Cricket World Cup games believes the country’s missed a golden opportunity to promote itself on the world stage.
Christchurch, Dunedin and Nelson were this week announced as the South Island venues for the Australasian 2015 World Cup along with four in the North Island.
Local steering group chairman, councillor Russell Mawhinney, who says he’s “gutted”, fears New Zealand as well as Queenstown have missed out.
Mawhinney says his group bid for both a pre-tournament media launch for the NZ section of the tournament, and for a game involving a Tier One side like India or England.
“I’m just worried that it’s a golden opportunity missed to showcase the country and Queenstown in the likes of India.”
Mawhinney fears Queenstown missed out because surprise venue Nelson’s council chucked $900,000 into its bid.
“I spoke to [CWC NZ boss] Therese Walsh yesterday and she’s kind of indicated that that was a factor.
“It seems that we didn’t throw enough money at it, from what they were looking for.”
Council boss and steering group member, Adam Feeley, shares Mawhinney’s disappointment.
“We understand the biggest issue was logistics – in terms of Sky [TV], their costs for getting here.
“We were always hopeful the sheer pulling power of Queenstown might have swayed it.
“As a recent immigrant, [the Remarkables mountains] as a backdrop, can any other place in NZ offer that as a backdrop?
“I’m disappointed for NZ.”
Mawhinney doesn’t think logistics is a legitimate reason, “when you look at all the other things that we could do”.
“You don’t get a bad word about what we’ve got here from any international team so that just doubles the disappointment for me.”
Mawhinney’s also annoyed that there were apparently question marks over the community involvement aspects of Queenstown’s bid.
“I said to Therese, ‘your people who assess that, do they know nothing about the Winter Festival, about the [NZ PGA Pro-Am] golf, about Winter Games, do they know anything about what goes on in Queenstown?’
“We do those sorts of things really well.”
Commenting to Mountain Scene, Walsh says: “We understand Queenstown’s disappointment.
“There were some difficult decisions to make and this was certainly one of them, however Queenstown will still play a key role in the lead-up to the tournament as a host city for next January’s qualifying tournament.”
Mawhinney says this is “the booby prize” – teams involved in that tournament include cricketing minnows Papua New Guinea, Uganda and Hong Kong.
Feeley believes it will be a nice opportunity to “showcase Queenstown a bit” – and adds that Queenstown can reap a benefits from the World Cup itself.
“Just like Rugby World Cup, it didn’t matter whether you were going to Napier, Nelson or Auckland, most of those people managed to find some time to come down to Queenstown.
“So we have to promote Queenstown as being part of the Cricket World Cup as a destination, if not a venue.”
Mawhinney says there’s also an opportunity to encourage participating countries to use Queenstown as a training venue, as occurred during the RWC.
“We also want to make it clear that we stand ready to step into the breach if anything changes down the line.”