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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Was it really this good?

Official reports have confirmed what most cricket followers suspected, namely that last season's Ashes tour was an economic windfall (well, perhaps a bit more predictable than a windfall) for Australian cricket and the Australian economy. Whether it was quite so beneficial as Cricket Australia and SACA 's media releases suggest , is, IMO, another matter.

An extract from the SACA media release:

A major economic study shows the international cricket program, including the Ashes Test match, created $58.5 million in economic impact, as well as 132 extra jobs and brought more than 11,500 visitors to the state.

The URS Economic Impact Study (EIS), commissioned by Cricket Australia, highlights the enormous financial impact of the cricket season. It shows the average international tourist stayed in Adelaide and regional South Australia for an average of more than 10 days – the highest of any State during the Ashes series – and spent an average of $6,489 per person.

An estimated 4,500 international visitors and 7,000 interstate visitors attended the Adelaide Test match over the 5 days, with the official Test match attendance of 136,761.

The consolidated direct economic impact on South Australia of the Ashes Test match was $53.52m, of this $48m was the result of international visitors, and $5.52m was the result of interstate visitors.

The estimated impact on Gross State Product or State Value Added of the Ashes Test was $8m, which is estimated to have created an additional 132 full-time jobs.

SACA Chief Executive Michael Deare said the study revealed how important international cricket was to the South Australian economy, and supported the SACA’s decision to continually improve the Oval’s corporate and sporting facilities.

“The direct economic impact of international cricket during the 2006-07 summer of $58.5m means cricket is in excellent shape, when compared to the $30m contribution from this year’s Clipsal 500, about $16m from the 2007 Tour Down Under and around $8m through the Rugby World Cup in 2003,” Mr Deare said.

“The statistics validate our long term plans for the Oval, and certainly reinforce the recent decisions of both the State and Federal governments in providing funding for the SACA’s ongoing redevelopment program.”

The One Day International cricket matches in January contributed an additional $5m in direct economic impact.

Nationally, the 2006-07 3 mobile Ashes Test Series and Commonwealth Bank One-Day International Series generated $317 million for the Australian economy and created 793 jobs, according to the report, which was released today by Tourism Minister Fran Bailey and Cricket Australia.

“Cricket is simply marvelous for jobs and tourism. Our boys not only did a fabulous job in winning back the Ashes, but helped to create hundreds of new jobs and attract thousands of tourists to our shores," Ms Bailey said.

Many of these stats appear to my untutored (in economics) eye to be very elastic, if not downright rubbery. What, for example, has happened to the 132 full time jobs created by the Adelaide Test? Were they full time just for the five days of the test (if that long) or have they continued beyond then? How many of them still exist?

I could go on, but much as I dislike what appears to be blatant gilding of the lily, I agree that the Ashes series has tremendous popular appeal. I therefore can't understand why, in an age when we hear so much about the importance of market forces, the authorities don't schedule Ashes series more frequently. A century ago England toured Australia about every two years. Yes, there were fewer test playing nations then, but nowadays it seems that the authorities dance to the tune of Indian media interests
instead of looking out of their corporate box windows and asking themselves why, if a particular contest (the Ashes) trumps the game (cricket), the contest can't be held more frequently.

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