Lakes Leisure’s football defeat

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Council quango Lakes Leisure has scored an own goal in staging Queens­town’s biggest soccer game over Winter Festival.

LL, which bore the cost of the venture, budgeted to break even on hosting the Wellington Phoenix versus Melbourne Victory game (right) at the Events Centre, says quango chairman Mike Saunders.

But while final figures are not yet available, “it looks like making several thousand dollars’ loss”,
he admits.

“We’d be disappointed making a loss, especially as there was a large amount of interest before the game and people saying what a wonderful idea it was to bring such a high-class couple of teams to Queenstown.”

The crowd – optimistically put at 2000 – fell 500 short of expectations, Saunders says.

He doesn’t blame ticket prices: “I didn’t think $5 for kids to come was really over the top, you can hardly buy an ice-cream for that.”

Nor was it under-promoted: “My understanding is, of all the Winter Festival activities, it was the third most reported.”

Hosting soccer can be hazardous for ratepayers – as evidenced by Auckland Regional Council losing $1.79 million on David Beckham’s LA Galaxy last December.

With its first full-year financial results due out soon, Saunders predicts LL – which runs Queenstown Lakes District Council’s sports venues – will “break even or thereabouts”.

He’s also hopeful the Events Centre will again stage a Super 14 rugby game next season after missing out this year.