A local councillor is pitching for a high-powered 2015 Cricket World Cup practice game in Queenstown to maximise tourism benefits.
Russell Mawhinney chairs a newly-formed body designed to ensure Queenstown derives major spinoffs from the global tournament that both New Zealand and Australia are hosting.
“I think we could get a game here but my personal belief is that rather than having a couple of minnows, we’d be better off to have a practice game between two of the big-shots,” he says.
Mawhinney – a former first-class cricketer – says Cricket World Cup training camps differ from the Rugby World Cup ones Queenstown hosted last year because they include practice games.
“You’d still get people to come and watch a practice game between India and England.”
Mawhinney says the Cricket World Cup is potentially bigger for Queenstown than RWC.
“Rugby’s big in NZ but cricket’s huge in some of those other places like India and Australia which are huge tourism markets for us.”
Mawhinney’s group also comprises Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd, local cricket club officials Ian Paterson and Donald Jackson, a Lakes Leisure representative and fellow councillor John Mann.
The group recently met with Cricket World Cup head of NZ operations Therese Walsh.
“She knows that we’re pretty focused on getting something and being part of the action,” Mawhinney says.
“We tick all the boxes – apart from maybe one or two ground requirements – but in terms of accommodation and God knows what else, we’re all good.”
Mawhinney says it’s in Queenstown’s favour that the Events Centre is hosting a four-day game between England and an NZ XI next February, about the time the Cricket World Cup schedule is being finalised.
Budd believes the potential to host teams for training and/or warm-up games is very exciting.
“Our facilities are outstanding and sports teams find Queenstown’s relaxed but inspirational environment perfect for team building and preparation.
“The potential from a tourism perspective is twofold, firstly for the substantial international media coverage that would accompany any of the teams and also from the touring fans.”