Escalating costs take toll on city events

Organisers of the popular About IT Triathlon Summer Series are having emergency meetings this week to consider the feasibility of the future for this popular event to be hosted in Nelson Mandela Bay. Having been a cornerstone development series for Triathlon South Africa in the Eastern Cape for more than 15 years, the escalating costs associated with the hosting of events in Nelson Mandela Bay is putting the squeeze on the affordability to manage events like triathlon in the City.

“The About IT Triathlon Summer Series is an annual event which has been hosted in the city for more than 15 years and regularly attracts participants from around the country” said Series organiser Mike Zoetmulder from Zsports Events NPC, a local non-profit sports company responsible for many of the social and affordable fun family events in the City.

“We’ve just been notified that the hire fee for the proposed Triathlon at Pollok Beach has escalated to R2,090 (per half day) despite the fact that the event takes place on an otherwise unused area behind the Summerstrand lifesaving club and receives no municipal support or services other than the use of an estimated R100 worth of electricity which is used for the food vendors that are at the event. Added to this is the increased cost for the compulsory Traffic Services which is now R492.40 per officer per hour.”

“The unnecessary commercial beach hire fee for sporting events is something we’ve brought to the attention of the city for several years now – Sports Tourism has to become a priority for our city and as a non-profit sports company we are committed to playing our part in making Nelson Mandela Bay a sporting mecca for fun, family and affordable events but we’re on a hiding to nowhere with having to pay commercial rates to host such events.”

This in contrast to neighbouring towns which are attracting events by charging a fraction of the costs for their services and infrastructure. The About IT Triathlon Summer Series traditional hosts the last race day of the Series at the busy Port St Francis where venue hire fees are waivered and Kouga Municipality traffic assistance last year cost the organisers just R150 per hour per officer.

Another event suffering from high beach hire fees is the aQuellé Ocean Racing Series, an event which attracts hundreds of folk to the beach front on a fortnightly basis throughout summer, and attracts an abundance of positive media coverage for the city as Africa’s largest family beach event unique to Nelson Mandela Bay. Like the About IT Triathlon Summer Series, the Ocean Racing Series receives no municipal services for the beach hire charged with all medical and water safety requirements having to be outsourced.

“I’m not opposed to the concept of paying a venue hire, I just feel that the majority of the events on the beachfront are being overcharged, given that the City bylaws make provision for a discounted sports fee but events that display sponsors branding are being charged the commercial hire rate without any consideration of the economic impact they have on the city. A well branded and supported sports event cannot be compared to a private company hiring the beach for an activation or function as the sports event has a massive economic impact on the region.”

Zsports Events NPC, the only non-profit professional sports company in Nelson Mandela Bay, was established in 2007 and has been responsible for creating or hosting events like the Bellbuoy Challenge, 3 Beaches Challenge, Global Diabetes Walk, the Color Run, River Mile, EC Swim Series, Urban Run, Muck Run, Business Night Relay, Nelson Mandela Bay Train Race, Triathlon Summer Series and the Ocean Racing Series. These events attract millions of rands worth of media coverage for the city and have an estimated economic impact of over R100 million.