Summer sporting extravaganza to boost Australian economy

A general view is seen during day two of the Fourth Ashes Test Match between Australia and England at Melbourne Cricket Ground on December 27, 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The summer of sport is expected to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue

In Australia, summer is all about sport. This season the addition of two major international events to the calendar is a big bonus, not just for sports lovers but for the economy as well.

Australians who don't enjoy sport turn off the television and head for the beach at this time of year.

For everyone else, there's a smorgasbord of Test and one-day cricket, PGA golf, an internationally famous yacht race, a grand slam tennis event, cycling and Formula One races.

The country is set to enjoy an unprecedented quantity of world sport worth an estimated A$320m ($267m; £172m) to the economy thanks to the addition of two major events.

The Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup - being held across five cities in January - and the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Cup, which will be played in Australia and New Zealand in February and March, eclipse other events in size and dollar value.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The cricket World Cup is one of the biggest sporting events on the globe

The Asian Cup is the biggest sporting event in Asia and the cricket World Cup is the third biggest sporting event in the world after the summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup.

Australia's summer of sport

  • December 9 - January 10: Four cricket Test matches, Australia v India.
  • December 11-14: Australian PGA golf Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast.
  • December 26-30: Sydney to Hobart yacht race.
  • January 9 - January 31, 2015: Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup.
  • January 16 - February 1: Cricket one-day international tri series, Australia, India and England.
  • January 17-25: Tour Down Under cycling classic, Adelaide and South Australia.
  • January 19 - February 1: Australian Open grand slam tennis, Melbourne.
  • February 14 - March 29: ICC World Cup.
  • March 12-15: Australian Grand Prix Formula One, Melbourne.

Ticket sales show just how important these two events are.

Every year, between 1 December and 1 April, there are five million tickets on sale for sport and entertainment events across New South Wales, according to state government body Destination NSW. For the same period in 2014-2015, there are eight million tickets on sale.

"That's what happens when you add an Asian Cup and a World Cup to the calendar," says Asian Cup chief executive officer Michael Brown. "There's going to be a lot more people spending a lot more dollars."

Australia's golden summer begins with the first of four Test cricket matches between Australia and India on 9 December. The fixtures were rescheduled to start later in the month because of the sudden death in late November of 25-year old Australian Test player Phillip Hughes.

The first Test now clashes with the Australian PGA golf event, while the Sydney to Hobart yacht race - which organisers claim is the largest spectator sporting event in the world - competes with the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

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Image caption There are likely to be large audiences for the Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup

An estimated one million spectators will watch the start of the yacht race - about 300,000 of them from the water and another 700,000 lining Sydney's harbour and coastline, says chief executive officer of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia, Mark Woolf.

The economic impact, however, is incalculable, says Mr Woolf, because it is a free spectator event.

"The metrics that come out of this race are enormous," he says. "It's not a stadium event. We don't have a captive audience. But there are tentacles everywhere.

"There's the investment of transporting and accommodating 118 boats and crew for the start. The crews bring their friends and families. Then there's provisioning and fuelling and self-catering for spectator picnics.

"Even the NSW town of Eden gets an economic lift. It's the last safe harbour for boats to refuel and restock before crossing Bass Strait. Once they reach Hobart the boats and crews have to get back to Sydney.

"Then there's the impact of those TV pictures of a perfect Sydney harbour beaming into Europe and America in the middle of winter on their Christmas night. It's hard to quantify the publicity and future tourism impact."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Grand Prix will arrive in Melbourne in March

As the Test cricket ends the Asian Cup kicks off on 9 January, with 16 teams playing 32 matches in Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne.

According to Mr Brown, PricewaterhouseCoopers has said the event will pump A$225m into the economy. Asian Cup organisers target ticket sales of 500,000, with 50,000 international visitors expected to attend.

Three of Australia's top ten trading partners - China, Japan and South Korea - have qualified, which means hosting the Asia Cup is a unique tourism, trade and investment opportunity for the country and the region, he says.

"The Asian Cup is Asia's biggest sporting event and football is the biggest team sport and the most popular sport in Asia," Mr Brown says. "In Asia, football outstrips cricket as a sport."

Tourism tsunami

But the Asian Cup will also have to compete for spectators and TV audiences with the Tour Down Under cycling classic in South Australia and the Australian Open grand slam tennis tournament in Melbourne.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Melbourne also plays host to the Australian Open in January

Then, the biggest sporting event of the summer begins on 14 February. More than one million people are expected to attend 49 one-day matches featuring 14 teams playing in the ICC World Cup at venues in Australia and New Zealand.

ICC World Cup chief executive officer John Harnden says 500,000 tickets have already been sold and tens of thousands of international spectators are expected to attend, creating a tourism tsunami between the two countries.

"There will be a lot of travel between Australia and New Zealand, and then India, the UK and the US are the three primary points of origin (for spectators)," says Mr Harnden.

"It is a great opportunity to showcase ourselves to the world and benefit from that great word of mouth from all those tens of thousands of tourists saying what a great time they had. If the Australian and New Zealand teams do well, that will be an even bigger bonus."

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