A Galway City councillor has vowed not the support any budget that does not include funding for next year’s Ironman event.
Fianna Fail councillor Michael Crowe has slammed proposals by council officials to cut the funding for Ironman 2012 in the upcoming Galway city budget. Cllr Crowe stressed that the inaugural event held in the first weekend of September had been a huge success for participants, spectators, businesses, and the organisors, and injected around €10 million into the local economy.
“I understand that officials in Galway City Council are proposing to cut the funding for next year’s Ironman. I am not supportive of this decision and I am confident that the 2012 funding can be maintained at this year’s levels. I will not support any budget which does not include this. The biggest winner after the September event is Galway. When Galway is presented in the fashion it was, then the beneficiaries are our businesses and residents and that is the most important thing to me. We need more of this.
“Hotels and businesses around Salthill and the city got great benefit out of the event, and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. When you have a sporting event that attracts approximately 2,200 competitors, each bringing along friends and family, that results in a lot of extra people in Galway for the weekend. It creates a much needed spending power boost for the region. In a recently published economic benefit study it showed that the event is worth €10 million to Galway. Some interesting statistics from the study showed that approximately 80 per cent of the competitors were non local, 20,000 spectators spent €4.5 million, and over €60,000 was raised for charities.”
Cllr Crowe added that he had been a “pivotal cog in the relationship wheel” between the organisors and the city officials in working through the challenges that a major sporting event such as this creates. During his time as city mayor Cllr Crowe travelled to Wiesbaden in Germany last year to meet with the organisers to research the Ironman and try to secure the competition for Galway. He also worked alongside the council director for transport and infrastructure Ciaran Hayes, ensuring that all financial support along with necessary infrastructural works were forthcoming in the months leading up to the event.
“I was approached by the organisers and invited to travel with them to witness the event in Europe as they were trying to secure one for Galway. I was delighted to do this and also inform myself all about Ironman, its workings, and the benefits it brings to host cities. I believed that all that had to be done to secure this event for Galway should be done. An Ironman event had never taken place in Ireland before. It was the ideal time of year in Galway with the annual festivals over, the international tourist season concluding, and the domestic market low because of children going back to school and just before the Oyster Festival. It was apparent to me that there was an obvious gap in the calendar and in the market for this. When it was finally secured for Galway I was confident it would give the city a welcome boost this time of year,” said Cllr Crowe who added that he will continue to work to maintain funding for this important event.