NZ world championships makes $2.3million loss


The astonishing news that the recent World Rowing championships held in New Zealand’s Lake Karapiro made a financial loss of NZ$2.3 million (£1.1million) off a budget of NZ$10 million (23%) has shocked many in the sport here in NZ.

The event was organised by Tom Mayo, CEO of the Karapiro 2010 event company.  His confident statements about ticket sales in advance of the event (and here and here) seem to have masked the terrible reality – that double counting purchasers of week-long tickets alongside day ticket sales meant that the “37,000 tickets sold” were only to around 4,000 people – many of whom came every day for 8 days (32,000).

Additional costs like hiring top-notch local bands to play in the lunch breaks were surely cost additions that did not lure more attendees.  Who goes to the Worlds for the music?  We go to see the rowing.

By creating a limited liability entity to run the Worlds, the loss cannot be attributed back to Rowing New Zealand and presumably can be written off as the company goes into liquidation after the event was over.

Naturally, it’s the ‘little people’ who suffer – local suppliers such as the bus company who ferried athletes and spectators to the venue whose bill will only now be paid thanks to the shortfall being covered in the short term by the Bank of NZ.  The national government and local councils are being asked to stump up the balance because of the local tourist spend
“just under $14m was injected into the local economy from this event”

Excuse me??

How can any organisation whether public or private sector be expected to suddenly pay out extra $50,000 from their budgets?  It’s rumoured that FISA is broke so they won’t be able to pay anything extra.  And when the two local councils have already contributed massively

Waipa District Council would be asked to write off a $55,000 bill for services and Hamilton City Council to forgive a $30,000 bill.

The Times understands that both councils would also be asked to give the national body [Rowing New Zealand] $25,000 a year for three years.

Hamilton City Council contributed $430,000 to the Rowing World Championships and Waipa District Council brought forward the $8.9m development of the Karapiro Domain and waived the rent of the facility during the event.


Why didn’t he organise event insurance to cover poor ticket sales or bad weather?

At least it seems that the kiwi  rowing team won’t be affected by the funding as theirs comes from SPARC and is ring fenced…. but a team of enquiry is going over the books now.

And Mr Mayo seems to have got off scott free without recrimination or a refund from his presumably enormous salary payment either.  At least we can hope that his performance bonus won’t be paid.


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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Michael Hawkins

    The banks that line the course at Lake Karapiro form a natural grandstand, and don’t caste a windshadow, either. The massive temporary grand stand that FISA required was totally unnecessary and must have cost a bundle.

    1. Rebecca Caroe

      I’m sure the grandstand was expensive. We heard it’s next stop after Karapiro was to Auckland for the band U2’s gig the following week! I wonder whether Frank was right about the non-rowing entertainment. Tho I’m sure they can’t have cost $2.3 million

  2. Frank Durkin

    I enjoyed the Karapiro Champs very much, they were well run – although the non-rowing entertainment was excessive. Our party of 4 ( 2 with no interest in the rowing ) spent 44 days in New Zealand and a total of over €20,000 between us not including flights. I am sure many others did something similar. Your Tourism people should come up with the balance. I did my bit!


    1. Rebecca Caroe

      Frank, like you we came and spent real $ on the trip. It was great. I just feel mildly embarrassed for the sport that such a huge figure was lost. Interestingly on the radio this week Mahe Drysdale said that he was involved in the planning committee and that a figure of 85,000 ticket sales was never mentioned – it was the first he heard about it was the announcement of the loss. He said they were targeting 65,000 and were delighted when it hit 67,000 visitors. Maybe there is something fishy going on?

  3. C Mabbot

    I just found this blog and have to say am dissapointed in your comments Rebecca. I was a volunteer and we should congratulate Tom and the team at RNZ for an amazing event….Rebecca you seem to have forgotten how bad some of the previous champs have been? In comparison to Eton, Munich, Poland and even Beijing… this was outstanding (even the athletes, coaches, spectators and media said it…read the articles)…were you there?

    When tom arrived in the organisation (2 years after the bid i think) it was in chaos. The event was yet to secure about 10+ million in funding (the government had only given a small amount (??? why)and yes tourism should come up with the balance) and the organisation was struggling after the previous CEO had left. Considering that this event was run in a recession, they secured all that sponsorship and it went perfectly well goes to prove he did a great job. I also hear that the event was a significant part of signing FISA’ new sponsor Samsung…they liked the new audience and the young fresh atmosphere….surely if we are to grow the sport we need this fresh approach??

    By the way everyone got paid and rumors are he did not pay himself all of the money owed and worked for free for three months to help sort it out.

    So…well done Tom….please come back to rowing soon…

  4. Rebecca Caroe

    Dear C Mabbot
    Seems you have much more information than was published in the press. I have no knowledge of the ‘chaos’ and the lack of organisation – please tell us what you know.
    As far as I was concerned, I went to Dorney and it was a pleasure to be there both as an exhibitor with Rowperfect and as a spectator. I was unaware of dis-organisation. What actually happened?
    thanks for commenting.

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