World Cup 2007: Business opportunities for the private sector

Stabroek News
December 1, 2002

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Chris Dehring, managing director of Windies World Cup 2007 Inc., addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Bridgetown last Wednesday on the scope of opportunities for the business community in the island and the Caribbean.

Today, ACROSS THE BOARD brings you an edited part of his speech.

IN APRIL 2007, the third largest sporting event in the world, the International Cricket Council’s World Cup will be staged in the Caribbean and the cricket world — around 1 1/4 billion people and the glare of its probing international media - will be squarely focussed on the West Indies.

Can they do it? Do they have the management skills and the resources to deliver an international event to world class standard? Do they even understand the magnitude of their undertaking and the tremendous business opportunities that will emanate from the hosting of the event?

These are just some of the questions that will be raised and it is important that the Caribbean respond in unison a resounding “YES!” In thought, word and action, the hue and cry must be that we will deliver “The Best World Cup Ever!”

But what is this event about which we speak. For it is surely not just cricket.

Indeed, one of our hardest tasks will be to educate the people of the Caribbean, the Governments and the private sector that what we are talking about is unlike anything that we have ever dared to undertake, certainly never as a cohesive union called the Caribbean.

That I - an investment banker by profession — stand here delivering this address is testimony to where the once amateur sport of cricket has evolved. It has gone from being the gentleman’s game played in open pastures to a financial transaction of high-powered negotiation, complex intellectual property and high finance.

Let me help to define this event for you by presenting the potential dimensions of the 2007 World Cup.

First and foremost, what we are talking about is the ICC World Cup. That is extremely important for people in the Caribbean to understand. This is not the West Indies’ World Cup to do what we want and to any standards we choose.

With some amusement, but with great concern, I’ve heard different views from all manner of people on talk shows around the Caribbean about “what we should do with our World Cup”. It just doesn’t work like this. There are standards to be met, even while maintaining a distinct Caribbean flavour.

The event in the Caribbean will be hosted by the West Indies, but alongside us will be the ICC and the Global Cricket Corporation - a subsidiary of Newscorp, the global rights holder to the event.

The co-management of the event means that not only will there be objectives of the West Indies Cricket Board to be met, but also objectives of the ICC and the international cricket community of which we are a member. Also, the objectives of the commercial rights holders have to be considered too.

Therefore, Windies World Cup 2007 has to be seen and appreciated as a global event that the West Indies has been given the privilege of hosting.

There have been various expressions of concern when mention is made of the United States, Cayman Islands or Bermuda as potential venues for the hosting of matches in 2007.

But understanding that this event belongs to the ICC and given their vision to spread the gospel of the glorious game, then the possibility that the ICC will want to have some of the matches played in these territories is very logical.

But let me put your minds somewhat at ease. The WICB has taken a policy decision that has been incorporated into the policies and guidelines of the World Cup Master Plan. That policy states that the semifinals and the final of the 2007 ICC World Cup will be staged in venues under the aegis of the WICB.

That means that those three important matches as far as the plans of the WICB are concerned must be played in three of the 14 countries who are an official part of West Indies cricket.

But what about the parameters of this global event? Surely, the mere mention of the economic parameters of the 2007 World Cup will whet the appetite of the business community in the Caribbean and get the imagination as to how to capitalise.

The World Cup is a mammoth economic activity. The value of the television and sponsorship rights stand as testimony. This international event will come with its international sponsors and it is anticipated that “sunset” legislation will be put in place to guard against ambush marketing.

Understand clearly what we are saying because there will be grave consequences if you do not. As an example, Kensington Oval and its environs will have to be absolutely “clean” of all signage in order for it to be usable as an official stadium in 2007.

The 2007 World Cup will be seen by over 1.4 billion around the globe, over five continents, by at least 10 international broadcasters. The world will see us in the Caribbean like never before.

Yes, we all know of the traditional countries that watch cricket like England, Australia and India. But countries such as Egypt, Malaysia and the United States are also reached by this global event.

For 54 days in 2007, almost a quarter of the globe will have the privilege of having the infectious Caribbean spirit in their living rooms. And we must prepare and deliver the most fantastic show for them.

Chris Dehring, managing- director of Windies World Cup 2007 Inc., addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Bridgetown two Wednesdays ago on the scope of opportunities for the business community in the island and the Caribbean.

Today, ACROSS THE BOARD brings you the second part of his speech

THE 2007 WORLD CUP will attract visitors, the likes of which have never been seen in the Caribbean in any concentrated time-period, spending more money than the current tourists, and more time.

And do not believe that the traffic will be limited by the size of our stadiums. I was at the 1999 final at Lords when Australia played Pakistan. The 15,000 or so Pakistanis inside the ground were not of particular interest to me. It was the 10,000 Pakistanis outside the ground who couldn't get a ticket, but wanted to be there in the event Pakistan won.

When the match was over, you had 25,000 Pakistanis and maybe another 15,000 Australians all dressed up and nowhere to go because the authorities thought of the World Cup final as a cricket match. When the match was over, they expected everyone to go home. But that is not the World Cup.

The World Cup is an opportunity to celebrate the game and its multiplicity of constituents. The event in 2007 will not make that mistake and the non-cricket events (the concerts, the banquets, the theme-parks, the parties, the food fairs) must be as big and as spectacular as the cricket matches. We know how to entertain in the Caribbean and the world must know it when the 2007 event is over.

I want to share some of the challenges that we face in hosting the 2007 World Cup because it is in recognising and understanding these challenges that the tremendous opportunities for the private sector emerge.

The most obvious of our challenges is that of our cricket stadiums. I know I tread very gingerly when I speak of cricket stadiums in the Caribbean. In Barbados, "the Mecca" - Kensington Oval - is thought and spoken of by Barbadians with the reverence more fitting a cathedral of-worship. Given its history, so it should. The great history, aura and spiritual resonance of this stadium as a monument to Barbadian and West Indian cricket-achievement is sacrosanct.

I get goose-pimples just entering Kensington Oval, the images of Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Frank Worrell and Rev. Wes Hall, men who graced the hallowed turf, have built brand-equity into the Oval that is precious, priceless and timeless. That legacy has to be nurtured, developed and preserved.

But when it comes to hosting the cricket World Cup, we speak not of Kensington Oval, or Sabina Park, or Bourda Oval as the great centres of West Indies cricket history, but purely as a physical specimen of a spectator-accommodating sporting facility.

The World Cup Master Plan has just been approved by the WICB and will begin to be rolled out in earnest in January 2003. A fundamental pillar of that plan is to maintain the distinctive element of competition between the potential venues in the Caribbean. And in that regard, ôall grounds are equal.

To assist the West Indies Cricket Board with assessing venues for the allocation of matches, professional venue- development master-planners will be contracted as part of a venue-assessment team to do an assessment of the venues on offer, as put forward by countries interested in hosting matches.

The definition of venue in this case is the country or city, and it is important to understand that all the facilities of the venue will need to be assessed: the airport and marine facilities, the hotels and other types of accommodation, the transportation and, of course, the cricket stadium.

In this regard, it won't matter to professional venue master-planners the special mystique attached to Kensington Oval. They won't care too much that the great George Headley made 270 not out against England at Sabina Park. And they will not recognise Rohan Kanhai's special moments at Bourda.

These are professionals who have performed similar assessments for football's World Cups and for the Olympics. They will assess your venues and your stadiums objectively for the quality and quantity of physical facility that they are, and on the basis that a World Cup is being staged in the Caribbean and that suitable venues and stadiums will be required to stage a world-class event.

There will also be no such thing as a traditional venue. The so-called traditional venues - Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana - will all have to submit a competitive bid like everybody else and will receive no preferential treatment.

This is not only a policy agreed by the WICB and incorporated in the WICB's World Cup master-plan, but was a particularly important issue enunciated by many of the Prime Ministers at the Caricom Heads of Government summit in July of this year.

Countries which have invested in new facilities like Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Antigua & Barbuda insisted on an assurance that when it comes to the 2007 World Cup, they will be treated on an equal basis with the so-called-traditional venues. They shall.

They, and indeed all the other countries under the aegis of the WICB, are just as much an integral part of West Indies cricket as the so-called traditional countries.

If there is a problem with the United States, Cayman or the Bahamas participating in the bid process, then the appreciation and understanding of globalisation and the understanding of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 being a global event with the WICB and ICC having international responsibilities, is not clear. I hope it is now clear.

Generally, the cricket stadiums in the Caribbean are in poor shape. We average around 15,000 in minimal quality-seating capacity against an average of 30,000 high-quality seating which will be required to host 2007 World Cup. Old stadiums need to be refurbished and new stadiums need to be built, but we don't need permanent seating of that capacity.

Technology has advanced to such an extent that many of the stadiums you see at the Olympics, for instance, are temporary stadiums. We don't want to be left with the proverbial "white elephants" when the 2007 World Cup is over.

Yes, we would love to have a 40,000- or 50,000-seat stadium for the final, but after the 2007 World Cup, we don't need such capacity. Work on our stadiums is needed, but we must be smart about it and not waste resources.

Chris Dehring, managing director of Windies World Cup 2007 Inc., addressed the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Bridgetown three Wednesdays ago on the scope of opportunities for the business community in the island and the Caribbean.

Today, ACROSS THE BOARD brings you the final part of his speech.

But what about some of the other challenges and opportunities that we face in hosting the 2007 World Cup.

Take accommodation for instance. If we promote and run this event right, we will have upwards of 100,000 visiting supporters to the region. Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of “Caribbean” visitors to the “venue” where the West Indies is playing.

A “back of the envelope” analysis of the accommodation scene in the West Indies throws up some interesting scenarios. There are just about 40,000 hotel rooms in the entire English speaking Caribbean.

This means, if we were able to take all the hotel rooms in the entire Caribbean and put them here in Barbados, Barbados would still be at a stretch to host a hypothetical match between England and India. We all know of the English love of following their team here in the Caribbean.

We can multiply that demand tenfold for the World Cup. India is a sleeping giant in this regard. With the proximity of North America and the 10 million or so residents from the sub-continent, this sleeping giant is likely to be fully awake. The expatriate populations of Australians, South Africans and others must also be considered.

With good planning and promotion, we will be over-run with tourists. So where will we put them?

In the Olympics and football’s World Cups, that’s where the entrepreneurs come to the rescue by registering and organising bed-and-breakfast accommodations, and expanding the definition of accommodations to every household that has a spare bedroom.

Cruise ships and other similar offshore accommodations are leased and offered as floating hotels. Don’t let the 2007 World Cup opportunities in this regard be snapped up by the foreign companies who are more alert to these opportunities.

Two years ago, I was invited to Atlanta by a brand develop group who had done a lot of work for the Atlanta Olympics. They asked me if I had ever heard of Silicon Valley. They informed me that they had been doing surveys in Silicon Valley to try and develop specialised products for the population there.

Surveys were conducted to ascertain their preferences for food, entertainment, among other things. They asked me what I thought was the most popular sport in Silicon Valley. I mused on the typical profile of a Silicon Valley person, young, multi-millionaire geeks walking around with backpacks and laptops and I immediately volunteered “golf”, in my mind the sport of choice for the “yuppie”.

The most popular sport in Silicon Valley by far is — CRICKET. Silicon Valley has a multitude of techie professionals from the sub-continent.

Multimillionaires who dream of nothing else, but cricket. Can you imagine the profitability from a high net worth cruise organised for this special group of people during the 2007 World Cup?

Transportation is another key area of opportunity. Moving visitors through the Caribbean and what about how they move within the venue? What about entertainment while these visitors are here? Where will they go after the matches? Think about the special food and beverage requirements that will be needed.

Picture the potential of an Indian restaurant servicing 20,000 Indian tourists for a month. I wouldn’t mind that concession. Extra health and medical resources will be required. Technology will be at a premium. Bandwidth to accommodate the communication needs of so many people at the same time.

The private sector response and eagerness to provide all of the elements that go into making an island a venue of choice, will determine how competitive it is in the tender process to host matches in the 2007 World Cup.

But do not believe that it cannot be done without Barbados. It should not, but it can. Technically, we could pull off a world-class event among five or six venues. If these are the quality bids on offer, then so be it.

The Caribbean community, the people, the Governments, the cricket boards, and you the business community must rally behind the bids of each territory, very much like how it is done for the Olympics and football World Cups.

It should not be out of a sense of charity. The economic rewards are tangible and substantive. The 2007 World Cup is projected to gross US$300 million over the six-week period, generating US$500 million in direct foreign exchange inflows to the region and US$750 million in economic activity.

It will be a boon to direct and indirect employment and will create priceless international media exposure for countries successful in hosting official events. Entire tourist industries could be built and rebuilt by such unprecedented marketing exposure.

But Barbados, like every other country in this hemisphere, must be competitive. We all know you can be.

Isn’t this the island that gave us Sir Garfield Sobers and Sir Frank Worrell, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes, Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith, Malcolm Marshall and Joel Garner. Surely, and dare I say, even the 2007 World Cup final isn’t beyond you.

But rest ye not on achievements past, for right is right, to follow right, were wisdom in the scorn of consequence.

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