Council knocks back $200,000 polo sponsorship request
A $200,000 sponsorship request to bring a Pop-Up Polo event to Gladstone has been knocked on the head by Gladstone Regional Council.
Pop-Up Polo is part of the Urban Polo circuit, established in 2005, the largest polo series in the world, and takes place on a "once off" basis in unique, regional and remote locations across Australia.
Event organisers are looking to expand to more regional areas, including Gladstone, with Rockhampton due to host the competition again on June 8 and Bundaberg on August 31.
However, organisers Light Group Pty Ltd sought a $200,000 investment from the council which would have included $50,000 in sponsorship and $150,000 for in-kind support. The in-kind support involved using Memorial Park as a staging ground with organisers preferring to hold the event close to the CBD to maximise economic benefit for local retail and business.
But to make the site fit for purpose, the council would be required to undertake capital works including the relocation of the Gladstone softball diamond shelter.
There were also reservations about holding a horse sport event so close to other sporting facilities.
Deputy major Chris Trevor raised possible alternative sites including the inner section of the Gladstone Turf Club and the Gladstone Showgrounds.
Councillors Desley O'Grady and PJ Sobhanian said they were happy to support the $50,000 sponsorship request, with the latter raising an amended motion.
Cr Sobhanian didn't want to completely shut the door on the event, proposing the council offer the $50,000 sponsorship, subject to discussions with council CEO Leisa Dowling and organisers to find an alternate site.
His motion was defeated, the council deciding to go with its original recommendation - "Decline the sponsorship request to fund Pop-Up Polo Gladstone 2019 event" - but changed the word "the" to "this" to keep the door ajar and allow organisers a chance to submit another request.
"The $150,000 capital investment is not something council can afford at present. However there is an opportunity to address concerns and still create a possibility to make this event happen," Cr Sobhanian said.
"The report provided to us stated it's a really good event, would be good for the economy and the event has a good track record but the concern was around the capital cost.
"The alternative motion was to offer to be a sponsor of the event, subject to discussions with the CEO regarding a site."
Cr Sobhanian said time was running out to make a decision on the event.
"One issue was time criticality. I don't think inaction is an option in an economy which is depressed - we need to diversify," he said.
"The motion I presented addressed the concerns by still creating the possible opportunity for the event to go ahead."
Mayor Matt Burnett said council's decision still left room for the event to come to Gladstone, likely in August it is goes ahead.
"We haven't closed the gate but we certainly did on the $150,000... We'd be looking for a much less investment than that," Cr Burnett said.