Sports events pour millions into East London coffers
From the last week of January to the end of February, more than 11,000 athletes, with only slightly fewer people accompanying them, paid in excess of R2.6m in entry fees to compete in one or more of a number of top events.
However, it is the Standard Bank 70.3 Ironman Triathlon, the Merrifield Mile, Vides School waterpolo tournament, Buffalo Regatta, and Surfer’s Marathon’s hidden advertising value that really rings up the numbers, estimated at more than R25m for the Ironman alone.
The 70.3 Ironman media and communications specialist, Siwa Ndzimanbe, said the R25m figure was conservative, and included R7m for SuperSport’s TV coverage, radio, print and social media.
“Spinoff benefits are difficult to quantify, but one of the stars of the TV show was East London, its beachfront, and the surrounding areas.
“Indirect income dwarfs entry fees because many of the nearly 2,000 competitors were visitors, and they had companions, so bed nights added significantly to the city’s coffers.”
Last weekend’s 45th Discovery Surfers Marathon attracted more than 3,000 athletes, with total entry fees of more than R400,000.
Neville Wilkin has co-ordinated the event for 25 years.
“We attract athletes from around the country and several from overseas.
“Our main sponsor, Discovery, is in its 18th year, and we have several longstanding minor sponsors.
“We have an agreement with sponsors not to discuss sponsorship value, but it is significant. [It’s] understandable, given the coverage the event receives, with all branding prominent.”
The 132nd RMB Buffalo Regatta, held from February 14 to 16, and hosted by East London Boating Association (Elba), attracted more than 800 rowers, managers and coaches, with 500-odd supporters. Most were visitors.
“Bed night value probably exceeded R600,000 per night, and many visitors spent four to five days in the city,” said Elba’s Philip King.
“With entry fees, the event brings in close to R3m. We don’t track the media aspect but the event is covered on TV, so you can add several million of positive exposure for Buffalo City Metro [BCM].”
About 850 swimmers took part in the various KFC Merrifield Mile categories.
As with the other events, the swim attracts sponsorship and entrants from outside the city.
KFC Baobab Khulisani sponsors the swim.
Director Grant Wheatley said the economic impact, while substantial, paled in comparison to the brands’ association with an event that attracted families, and exuded an image of healthy living.
Selborne College’s 43rd Vides waterpolo tournament had 400 pupils in the water, with an additional 400 administrators and parents.
Not quite in the 70.3 financial league, it contributed to advertising East London as a sporting venue.
The city’s biggest ever event, in financial terms, was the Africa Open European Tour staged from 2009 and 2015 at East London Golf Club, before it moved to Johannesburg.
BCM invested R18m in the event, with the rationale that four days of international TV coverage met the goal of promoting the area as a premier tourism sporting destination...