All weekend those of us watching and reading about the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix were feted to the stories of Australians, and especially Melbournians, complaining about the high cost of the Melbourne Grand Prix. The race costs Melbourne 50 Million Australian Dollars a year to put on. But what about the benefits?
I have seen estimates of the race’s short-term injections into the Melbourne economy ranging between forty and seventy million Australian dollars. These estimates are largely based on hotel bookings, restaurant and show attendance etc. But these are not the only ways that the Grand Prix benefits Melbourne.
There is a long-term injection into the Melbourne economy that we cannot calculate. The Grand Prix is essentially a three day advertisement for Melbourne, with TV networks often sending out “roving cameramen” to experience the sights and sounds. Quite often during gaps in the entertainment, TV networks all across the globe show montages of Melbourne’s beaches and parks and interview locals. For a country that spends as much money on tourism advertising as Australia does, this is gold. It’s not just a race, it’s advertising.
P.S: I have also seen a couple of interviews with Bernie Ecclestone where he is complaining that the Australian Grand Prix loses money due to its ridiculous timing. When the Australian GP started, it was 6:30am GMT, when only the most hard-core fans would be watching, and many sports bars and pubs would not be open. The Australian GP could quite easily become a night race, which would also have the added benefit of providing spectacular silhouettes of the Melbourne skyline behind it during the race. All the organisers have to do is splash out for some lights. Considering Melbourne has already spent 650 Million Australian Dollars on tennis (and has pledged to spend 285 million more by 2026), and just spent 268 million on a soccer stadium, can we please spring for a couple of flash lights or something?