If Melbourne is intent on making Australia look bad in front of the rest of the world, they should be stripped of hosting rights for the Formula 1 Grand Prix. That’s not to say the event should leave Australian shores. No, now more than ever, Sydney should give more serious consideration to snatching the festival of speed.
This week, the eyes of the sporting world are firmly fixed on Melbourne.
Some of the fastest cars and most skilful drivers on the planet are in town for their annual high-octane party.
It’s a high profile get together that a lot of people are keen to attend, but the hosts are making it less Woodstock and more like the 80th birthday bash of your mum’s second cousin.
This week former F1 driver David Coulthard said Melbourne was the only place where the locals made the drivers feel unwanted.
Who cares, you may ask? They’re paid millions of dollars to travel the world and drive finely tuned machines. Why do they need to feel loved?
Well, athletes like to know their talents are appreciated and don’t really want to perform in front of an audience that couldn’t care if they raced or stayed in pit lane for four days.
Am I the only one embarrassed by Melbourne’s indifference to this event?
This isn’t like the opening round of the AFL season, where everyone from Bob from Beaconsfield to Bill in Broome is on the edge of their seats.
This is one of only 19 Grands Prix every year in motor sports premier class. This isn’t a domestic powerhouse, but a worldwide spectacle.
To motor sport fans, this is the Melbourne Cup on wheels.
The event is beamed into every country capable of picking up a signal. Even others, who only have a passing interest, should be capable of admiring the skills of those in the cockpit.
Melburnians, including Lord Mayor Robert Doyle, aren’t thrilled the event reportedly lost taxpayers around $50 million last year. Over the past three years the event has reportedly lost about $130 million.
Think about how much of taxpayers money gets squandered every year on projects that may not even see the light of day. At least with this, you can see an end result.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone also wants organisers of the Australian Grand Prix to move the event to a purpose built track.
Those are the stumbling blocks.
But the Victorian government shouldn’t be looking at the list of demands. They should be looking at the long line of officials from some of the biggest cities in the world, all trying to convince Ecclestone they should host an event.
Ecclestone is even missing the Australian Grand Prix this year to attend a sales pitch from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
So what is Melbourne missing that everyone else is seeing? Why are they treating this like the NAB Challenge when it’s actually the Grand Final?
If Victoria doesn’t want to play host, then maybe it’s time for Sydney to start making some noise.
The V8 Supercars currently hold an event around the streets of the Olympic precinct at Homebush. It’s not exactly Monaco, but it could be a start. The track is exciting and the surface is getting better every year.
Sydney isn’t blessed with an ideal street circuit location like Albert Park in Melbourne that is close to the CBD, so somewhere that takes in the likes of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge will never be a reality.
Regardless, this shouldn’t stop Events New South Wales launching a raid on their southern neighbours sporting stocks. They don’t even want the jewel they should be trying to steal!
Sydney doesn’t have a marquee-sporting event.
Melbourne already has the Australian tennis Open, the Grand Prix and will host golf’s Presidents Cup this year. These are events that capture the attention of sports fans worldwide.
The NRL Grand Final, one or two State of Origin games or the fifth cricket test of the summer just don’t cut it for a city that is meant to be one of the best in the world.