Getting back to Economics while still on blogging on sport, I heard Keith Quinn on Radio Sport yesterday, castigating the government for its refusal to commit $600m to underwrite a bid from Auckland to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games. At the same time that I think that $600m to host the Games would be a scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money, I have a tinge of sadness mixed with nostalgia that the Games are unlikely to return to New Zealand any time soon.
The nostalgia comes from the 1974 Games in Christchurch. As an 11-year old, I got to be one of the kids running on to the athletics field in the opening ceremony dressed in coloured plastic to form a human version of the games symbol. And the following day on the first day of competition, I was selling programmes at QEII park, and got the opportunity later in the day to sit in one of the numerous unsold prime, near-the-finish-line seats and watch Dick Taylor’s incredible gold-medal race in the 10,000 metres.
So I am wondering, if we could host the Games in 1974 even with prime seats left over for programme-selling squatters, and less competition for broadcasting rights, why can we not today. Did the government spend the equivalent of $600m back then (in which case, I promptly lose my nostalgia), or has the cost of hosting the Games spiralled out of control? If the latter, what costs so much now that did not back then?