Why Sydney doesn’t deserve the V8 Supercars finale

Adrian Musolino Columnist

By Adrian Musolino, Adrian Musolino is a Roar Expert

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    Few thought a V8 Supercars Sydney Olympic Park would ever eventuate, yet the punishing street circuit around the site of the 2000 Olympics has become a fixture as the season finale on the V8 Supercars schedule since 2009.

    Seven years into the event, though, it seems V8 Supercars is ready to walk away from Sydney Olympic Park after a failed bid to rework and shorten the circuit in a bid to revitalise the event and save money.

    As a result, reports have emerged that V8 Supercars is in talks with the New South Wales government to back a street race in Gosford on the Central Coast, as a potential replacement for Sydney Olympic Park in 2017.

    V8 Supercars reportedly loses $4 million a year on the Sydney Olympic Park event, not helped by dwindling crowds year on year. While other street-circuit events in Adelaide, Townsville and Gold Coast have been able sustain a certain level of crowd numbers, Sydney has gone backwards at a noticeable rate.

    The decreased interest in Sydney is puzzling. Sure, the event has done away with the post-race concerts that are a regular fixture at the other street circuits and the exhibitions in the pavilions have diminished since the inaugural event.

    But Sydney Olympic Park has adequate public transport, free to use for those with a ticket to the event. It has clean air away from other major sporting events, away from the NRL, AFL and Big Bash League. It has the prestige of being the championship-deciding event.

    It is a punishing street circuit that always produces drama and is a family-friendly event with so many non-racing attractions throughout the precinct.

    So it makes no sense that the crowds have fallen away so dramatically, in total contrast to other street-circuit events, until you factor in Sydney’s notorious fickleness when it comes to sporting events.

    Sydney’s fickle sporting crowds are often blamed on poor public transport options to their stadia spread across the often hard to navigate city, a high cost of living compared to other cities and the lack of a strong membership culture relative to the likes of Victoria. Though these factors don’t directly correlate with the Sydney Olympic Park V8 Supercars event, they might help explain a Sydneysiders’ mentality when it comes to not attending sporting events.

    Combined with the high cost of staging the event and the difficulty V8 Supercars has had in negotiating to a shorter more cost effective layout with the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, it appears the event is doomed. Given the lack of support from the masses, Sydneysiders will only have themselves to blame.

    Gosford, like Townsville, will no doubt support the event – a regional centre with little else in the way of major events. Sydney’s loss will be Gosford’s gain. And any talk of Sydney replacing Melbourne as the host of the Australian Grand Prix should end with the lesson of Sydney Olympic Park’s V8 Supercars event.

    Adrian Musolino
    Adrian Musolino

    Adrian Musolino is editor of V8X Magazine, and has written as an expert on The Roar since 2008, cementing himself as a key writer who can see the big picture in sport. He freelances on other forms of motorsport, football, cycling and more.

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    The Crowd Says (22)

    • December 10th 2015 @ 6:41am
      marfu said | December 10th 2015 @ 6:41am | ! Report

      Thanks for the good read Adrian. Your article turned out to be far more interesting and insightful to me than I expected as I am not a huge fan of the V8s as I regard them as dinosaurs but which are probably necessary to Australian motorsport. It highlights once again the difference between NSW and Vic sporting crowd loyalties and I agree that to shift F1 there would not be a good move.

    • December 10th 2015 @ 7:16am
      Bear54 said | December 10th 2015 @ 7:16am | ! Report

      It should be obvious to anyone with a passing interest in motor racing, myself included, the only V8 race which matters in NSW is Bathurst? Every other location pales in comparison. Sydney, Gosford, Eastern Creek, Amaroo or Oran Park could never have the aura, the history or the prestige of “The Great Race”.

      As V8 fans plan their calendar if they can’t make it to all the events (and who could afford it???) then they’ll choose to make the annual pilgrimage to the race which probably created their passion in the first place. For those who have never been to a race why would you choose another over Mt Panorama?

      I don’t understand anyone would sink money (especially the taxpayers) into a race anywhere else in NSW?

    • Roar Guru

      December 10th 2015 @ 7:22am
      Andrew Kitchener said | December 10th 2015 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Interesting that they did away with a lot of the sideshow stuff – concerts etc. – that draw casual racing fans to these street race events.

      It’s a strange strategy in Sydney, considering V8SC have the concerts and ancillary events at all their other street race events. Easy to see why Sydney fans feel short-changed. Plus, VERY expensive tickets.

      • Roar Guru

        December 10th 2015 @ 10:14am
        Mark Young said | December 10th 2015 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Hi Andrew

        Agreed
        I volunteered on a number of occasions at SOP for the V8s and the biggest race days were the ones leading into Cold Chisel and Guns and Roses. Same point as Jamesb has made below.
        With the ticket prices, they are pretty cheap if you are happy to go General Admission to sit in the sun and not see anything.

        But yes, if you actually have an intention to watch the race you really need a Grandstand seat which is pretty costly.

        The big plus it has/had it that you get very VERY close to the cars, some of the spots on the exits to corners were breathtaking.
        Not enough to sustain the event though

        • Roar Guru

          December 10th 2015 @ 12:04pm
          Andrew Kitchener said | December 10th 2015 @ 12:04pm | ! Report

          It was such an epic few early years with Cold Chisel and Hunters & Collectors reforming. They had The Living End, Farnham and Noiseworks in that timeframe, too. The fact that you could watch the race AND get to see a full concert was incredibly appealing!

    • December 10th 2015 @ 7:34am
      jamesb said | December 10th 2015 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      “Sure, the event has done away with the post-race concerts that are a regular fixture at the other street circuits”

      Well, maybe thats the reason why crowds are down. Not puzzling at all. If other street circuits lose their post race concerts, fair chance their crowds will also decrease.

    • December 10th 2015 @ 8:05am
      nordster said | December 10th 2015 @ 8:05am | ! Report

      Gosford would lap the event up, whether its the finale or elsewhere in the calendar. Rather than chasing international races, its amazing they havent thought to go to more regional areas like this.

      The funding aspect is just too attached to government subsidy i guess for most areas regionally. Although this Events NSW mob is meant to be for the whole state. Its not Events Sydney….

      • December 10th 2015 @ 2:37pm
        CG2430 said | December 10th 2015 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

        How dare you suggest the NSW Government should give a toss about anything north of Berowra, south of St George, and west of Penrith! Sydney is the best city in the world according to people from Sydney, and don’t you forget it!

        • December 11th 2015 @ 7:26am
          nordster said | December 11th 2015 @ 7:26am | ! Report

          Ha indeed! They even have absurd median house prices to prove it to themselves eh;)

    • December 10th 2015 @ 8:27am
      pioneer said | December 10th 2015 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      “Sydney Olympic Park has adequate public transport, free to use for those with a ticket to the event. It has clean air away from other major sporting events, away from the NRL, AFL and Big Bash League. It has the prestige of being the championship-deciding event.”

      You could add that it’s in the geographical heart of the Sydney metro area, meaning that it’s right in the middle of the biggest population centre in the country, which adds to the mystery of why it’s failed so badly.

      In my opinion, there’s no mystery – it has failed because the paying public has been taken for granted. A general admission ticket (which isn’t cheap) gets you into the venue, but that’s about it. Good luck seeing ANYTHING – there are almost no decent viewing areas other than the premium priced ones in grandstands, and of course the all-important ‘corporate’ areas. You could go to any football game of any code, and even at the cheapest seats at least be guaranteed you could actually SEE the action – and also to be able to sit down while watching, rather than have to stand and try to peer over other peoples shoulders. On top of that, at this time of the year at Homebush it’s usually very hot – and there’s virtually no shade anywhere except in the showground livestock sheds which are used for the pit areas. They say it’s a tough event on drivers but it’s also gruelling for the spectator. Compared to other events it does not offer value for money.

      • December 10th 2015 @ 9:41am
        Ken said | December 10th 2015 @ 9:41am | ! Report

        I was just about to write half the same stuff but you’ve already done it better. I went to the first one there, the sightlines are awful, it was high 30’s in a concrete jungle with almost zero shade and it’s a fairly tight, flat, boring track. It’s like the Gold Coast track minus the beaches, bikinis and party atmosphere, especially now they’ve stopped the concerts.

        Maybe I’m just jaded, truthfully I barely keep up with the V8’s these days, Bathurst is the only event that holds my attention. I’m sure Gosford would do a great job with a street circuit.

        Should the F1 move again? Probably not, if Sydney tried to bully it out of Melbourne like Melbourne did to Adelaide it would probably just result in Australia losing the event. There’s too many moneyed-up places trying to buy a place on the calendar. If it were ever to happen though it shouldn’t go to Homebush, it would have to either be a new street circuit or they’d have to tart up Eastern Creek a bit (for those out of Sydney though, Eastern Creek is 40+km from town and has little accommodation or flashy nightlife in the vicinity.)

        Truth is, Sydney doesn’t really have a facility ideal for major event motorsport events. Bathurst is like Mecca but it’s just a bit far away and a little too woolly to consider for modern F1.

      • Roar Guru

        December 10th 2015 @ 10:16am
        Mark Young said | December 10th 2015 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Spot on Pioneer, it is hot with terrible sight lines.
        Great to come in and ‘soak up the atmosphere’ or ‘feel the noise’ but not good enough to sustain a day long commitment to come and watch.

      • December 10th 2015 @ 1:10pm
        Damo said | December 10th 2015 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        This. I been to a few V8 events around the country and as a Motorsport fan, the value for the finale at Olympic Park is non existent. Sure it’s a great exciting track for racing but that’s useless if you can’t see it form anywhere.
        As a live attendee, gimme Darwin, Bathurst, Townsville, Phillip Island and even Perth anyday compared to this.

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