As temperatures soar in the ‘garden state’ known as Victoria, and with the Australian Open in full swing, so come the obligatory calls for the Grand Prix to be axed.
The old, “why have the Grand Prix when we have the tennis?” moan has firmly established itself as the annual flavour of the month.
Who hasn’t heard, “Last year 686,006 attended the tennis but only 313,700 went to the Grand Prix, how can this be justified?”
Apart from the notion this aggregate total represents almost spot on 1,000,000 attendances for Victoria across two international events, there is one minor oversight.
The Grand Prix event lasts a quarter the duration of the Australian Open, yet using the provided 2012 figures as a barometer, 45.73% of the Open figures still flock through the gates.
Imagine if the Grand Prix was a two week spectacle?
A quick bit of maths shows us if the Grand Prix were as long as the Open, One million two hundred and fifty-four thousand eight hundred would attend (4 x 313,700 = 1,254,800).
Allowing for a more than generous 30 percent depreciation in dint of the wider duration, this figure falls to 878 400, still nearly 200,000 more than the Open.
For the man who speaks only in football, this represents two AFL grand finals, which the government complains is a drain on their coffers.
It could be described as an inconvenient truth to the common critic. 878,400 is a figure which could serve as the basis to Al Gore’s controversial 2006 documentary bearing the same name, it sends shivers down the spines of individuals such as The Honourable Lord Mayor Robert Doyle.
There will always be the “but it costs us 30 million dollars a year” contention, but what the Grand Prix offers is priceless in what it recoups for the state of Victoria, and by extension, the nation.
Drivers, personnel and journalists love the event, most rating it among the top three on the calendar. This too is dismissed by those who don’t see the spectacle for what it is.
Then there are the hundreds of jobs – some part-time, others permanent – which are created, with many individuals employed solely for the Grand Prix weekend. The very livelihoods of these people depend on the continued existence of the race.
Let’s get one thing straight, the Australian Open is a magnificent event and this is not a criticism of tennis. It is simply being used, such is its stature, as a direct comparison between a great event and another hugely unappreciated great event.