We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – this city enjoys big events but more correctly, the powers-to-be love inflicting them upon us. There’s nothing like a huge, super publicised, public shindig to deflect attention from all that’s wrong with NSW and deliver a massive feel good anti-depressant.
Yes, we’ve seen it all before. The almost ‘royal occasion’ visits of Oprah and Ellen, the ill-fated Breakfast On The Bridge, the zillions spent on NYE festivities and the numerous high-profile sporting events that we joust with our southern rival Melbourne to secure. Whilst it’s never fully revealed the cost to the taxpayer is invariably high, but justified, on the basis that it brings millions into the local economy and attracts thousands of tourists from abroad.
The latest manifestation of Prozac politics is the announcement that Sydney will play host to a major league baseball game in March of next year between the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. At considerable expense, the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground will be temporarily ripped up to install a baseball diamond as we witness the opening two games of the US baseball season. Whoopee! The whole shebang is billed as a $13 million bonus for NSW with the Sports Minister Graham Annesley claiming the event would “generate more than 10,000 international and interstate visitor nights to Sydney”.
That it may well do, but we would love to know at exactly what cost to the good old public purse? In recent years highly promoted events like the visit of Queen Oprah have been justified on the basis that the international exposure brings thousands of tourists to this country. Despite major network coverage of Oprah’s visit in the US, there was no noticeable rise in the number of American tourists visiting this country. Likewise the somewhat wacky Breakfast On The Bridge event, which saw hundreds of thousands of dollars of temporary turf laid on the old coathanger, was said to have generated millions of dollars of publicity all around the world. Seriously did anybody, anywhere give a hoot about the sight of 6,000 Sydneysiders eating soggy toast and water logged croissants as the rain tumbled down?
Whilst baseball is played in this country it’s certainly overshadowed by four major football codes, not to mention cricket, basketball and netball. Nevertheless nobody can deny that the American game has infiltrated our everyday vocabulary so perhaps it’s now appropriate to push the NSW Government for total transparency as to the true cost benefit analysis of their proposed ‘Field Of Dreams’. Just a ‘ball park figure’ will do and the ‘designated hitter’ needs to ‘clear the bases’ and ‘hit a home run’ for public accountability. Let’s ‘keep the hitter honest’ and do away with the ‘junkball pitcher’. Give us a break and ‘strike out’ all the hype. If we are about to be see the Government hit us with another ‘wallop’, Barry – just don’t make it a ‘curve ball’!