The National, Tuesday June 2nd, 2015
PORT Moresby will be in an envious position post Pacific Games with a set of sports infrastructure that will be among the best in the Pacific Islands.
The stadia and staging facilities that will be used by the Games athletes in a month’s time will spur the growth of sport in Papua New Guinea firmly into the professional era.
Last week, Sports Minister Justin Tkatchenko held a brief press conference at the Sir John Guise Stadium in Waigani to announce the first test event for the stadium – the SP Hunters’ Queensland Cup Round 14 fixture against the Souths Logan Mapgpies.
It will be a night game on a Sunday and Tkatchenko, Hunters management and Games organisers are hoping to fill most of the 15,000 seats.
According to some the stadium is easily the best in the Q-Cup competition with none of the other clubs able to claim a facility with similar amenities and seating capacity.
This could eventually provide a segue for a PNG rugby league team into the NRL.
The Hunters though are expected to eventually settle at the National Football Stadium (formerly known as the Lloyd Robson Oval) in Boroko but their experience using the Games main stadium will be instructive for their future.
Hunters board chairman Graham Osborne admitted during the press conference that the club was feeling the financial strain of being the only overseas based club in the Q-Cup but he would be optimistic at what the team can achieve by having a large venue for its fans who are the very people that will ultimately decide the fate of the venture.
With tickets for the outer stand going for an affordable K20 and the grand stand being a tad more pricier, the Hunters are in the a good place being a club that commended the support of a fan base of several million and a guaranteed full house on every home game.
The Hunters should attract a good crowd on match day and it will give oragnisers a chance to test run their services such as catering, ticketing, security, television, transport, safety, crowd management, sound, lighting and a whole gamut of other things that go into making a large sporting event a success.
This experience will hopefully give sports administrators including corporate houses a chance to see the effect of these types of events on the public and more importantly on the purse.
The idea is for the model to be repeated or at least followed in part at the city’s other major venues including the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium, the Taurama Aquatic Centre, the National Football Stadium, the SJGS Indoor Com plex and the Rita Flynn Netball Complex.
All these venues will give the city a tremendous bargaining chip when bidding for regional sports events.
This will allow them to host major events that will bring public (local and international) focus on the places themselves but on the city as well.
The government has expanded a significant amount of money on some of these venues and the challenge now is to make these facilities self-reliant and sustainable in the long run.
They would have to be considering the price tag attached.
The state has spent an estimated K1.2 billion on the majority of the infrastructure and after the XV Pacific Games the real work will be maintaining them and generating revenue from them.
This is why the testing of the SJGS outdoor stadium is crucial.
Depending on the crowds and the enthusiasm with which the paying sports public has for the show the venues around Port Moresby will truly live up to the name given to them by the government as legacy venues, which means they are for the long term, for the future generations.
The corporate kina will play a big role in keeping that goal afloat.
The truth of the matter is that the whole sports industry is for the most part propped up by sponsorship from the private sector.
The model of government sponsorship for sports is worthwhile but that support can only go so far.
Gate takings aside it is the ongoing backing of companies with their product placements, athlete and team endorsements, venue and team naming rights, branding and television and other broadcast rights that will decide whether sport survives and prospers or stagnates and dies.