Ireland could lose Volvo if state funding is not forthcoming

Photo Ronan Palliser. 
www.ronanpalliser.ie

Photo Ronan Palliser. www.ronanpalliser.ie

State funding is essential to underwrite the costs of hosting the next edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, and without it, it will not be coming back to Ireland in 2014/15.

Organisers of the past two editions of the race, Let’s Do It Global, says this year’s finale was essentially run by volunteers and the goodwill of businesses, but that needs to change if Galway is serious about Volvo continuing to bring the multimillion euro event to the west of Ireland.

Let’s Do it Global president John Killeen says Galway is the only stopover on the Volvo calendar that is run essentially by private entity.

“If you look at all the other stopovers all the applications have been made by state or semi-state bodies,” Mr Killeen says. “Lisbon’s stopover was organised by the port authority, in China it was state funded, while in Auckland it was the city council. On the last two occasions we have organised it as a community group and that is a hugely onerous task.”

Mr Killeen says the Government, through one or more of its agencies like Bord Failte, needs to underwrite the event. It could also be a collaboration between State and various semi-state bodies.

“We are not saying Let’s Do It Global will not want to organise it. We would like to be involved with the next stopover, but it needs to be underwritten by the State. The spin-offs and economic value to the Irish economy is huge - it is 10 fold on the investment - and that is why it so many countries want to host it.

“This year’s race finale and festival was a phenomenal success and has shown that the city has the capacity to stage one of the world’s biggest sporting and tourism events.”

The Government through Failte Ireland spent €4 million on this year’s stopover - the fee that was given to Volvo to bring the race back to Galway. The investment was phased over two years - €2 million in 2010 and the final payment in February this year. However Mr Killeen says an extra €6 million is needed to host the event which this year relied on voluntary labour and the goodwill of businesses. Volvo, he said, also made a huge investment in this year’s finale.

It is understood no other Irish city has made a bid for the next edition of the race, leaving Galway automatically included in the final shake-up, having hosted the event on the previous two occasions. Representatives from at least nine other bidding cities from around the world were in Galway last week and Mr Killeen says those cities will be approaching the bidding process with considerable financial resources.

That process will begin in September with final decisions made in December, and Mr Killeen says Let’s Do It Global will be discussing the possibility of a new bid shortly.

“We will have to look at a different mechanism - there has to be a better structure. Let’s Do It Global is immensely proud to have been associated with the staging of the Volvo Ocean Race, and we would like to continue that association if allowed.”

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