Funding the Flagship
“The turf in Auckland’s Eden Park stadium is freshly laid and verdant green, but three floors up, the corporate hospitality suite remains unfinished,” writes the Financial Times’ David Fickling. “Martin Snedden, chief executive of New Zealand’s 2011 Rugby World Cup organising body, steps up to address about 200 members gathered in business suits, fluorescent jackets and hard hats. ‘I think we missed a huge opportunity when we brought you all up here,’ he grins. ‘We should have said the only way back down is to buy your way out with some corporate sponsorship.’ The laughter is good-natured but subdued. A funding crisis is a rite of passage for any international sporting tournament. As the flagship venue for next year’s event, Eden Park is no exception. New Zealand, like many other countries, is only slowly emerging from a deep recession, and beneath the pride over hosting the event, there is a note of unease in the room. It is typical of New Zealand, and its profound reverence for its national sport, that borrowing [money] would seem to matter less if the All Blacks triumph next year.