The not-for-profit organisers of the Volvo Ocean Race Grand Finale have questioned whether there is sufficient appetite at a political level for bringing the race back to Galway.
The comments came after last week’s announcement that Let’s Do It Global is not currently planning to table a bid for the 2014-2015 edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, citing the “unsustainable” funding model employed during the event’s previous visits to Galway.
Speaking to The Galway Independent, Let’s Do It Global CEO Micheline McNamara said that she has not been approached by Galway City Council or any local politicians with an offer of increased support for the event.
“I don’t know – maybe the appetite isn’t there,” said Ms McNamara, acknowledging that many politicians may be on holidays at this time of year.
Ms McNamara added that she would not give up hope of Galway entering a bid before the September deadline, but that no attention is being placed on a new bid at the moment.
“There has been no resources, time or attention placed on the bid from Let’s Do It Global’s perspective,” she said.
Paying tribute to the “huge amount of work and time commitment” put into previous editions of the race by Galway City Council, Ms McNamara also called for the local authority or some other State agency to underwrite the cost of running the festival before a fresh bid was tabled.
“If the city were to underwrite [the cost], or if there was an underwriting partner it would be absolutely possible to recreate the amazing event,” said Ms McNamara.
“The appetite needs to be there to underwrite it, and to actually put the correct funding mechanisms in place,” she added.
Although Let’s Do It Global has not been contacted by local politicians, it has emerged Galway West TD, Deputy Sean Kyne has written to Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Leo Varadkar asking that further State funding be granted to Let’s Do It Global.
In a letter seen by the Galway Independent, Deputy Kyne emphasises the economic impact the two previous visits of the race has had on Galway and the international attention it has brought on Ireland.
“I believe it is imperative that Government step in and partner with Let’s Do It Global so that a new bid may be submitted,” wrote Deputy Kyne.
“We must not let this opportunity pass us and I am committed to supporting, in whatever way I can, efforts which will create a partnership structure between the voluntary organisation and the State so that Galway may once again host the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race,” he added.
When contacted by the Galway Independent, Galway City Council Director of Services Ciaran Hayes said that any offer by the local authority to underwrite the costs of the event would require additional funding at a national level.
“Some of the funding would have to come from the Government. Given the scale of the funding that’s involved in the Volvo Ocean Race, it would not be available to the local authority. We would not have that kind of disposable income,” said Mr Hayes.
Asked whether Galway City Council would consider tabling its own bid to bring the race back to Galway, Mr Hayes said such a move would represent a departure from existing practice.
Galway City Council, said Mr Hayes, has a long tradition of collaborating with various groups to organise large events in Galway City.
“That’s the tradition here, where the local authority has been coming in by way of a major supporter and an organiser of the logistics and so on. It would be a departure to move away from that,” said Mr Hayes.
He also said that while the council has not had discussions with Let’s Do It Global regarding funding and the tabling of a new bid, the council was “certainly available” to discuss the issue.
“We have ongoing discussions with Let’s Do It Galway on a number of different fronts. We’ve had very close co-operation with them over the last 18 months – two years in relation to the organisation of the recent event. So, I imagine the matter will be discussed in our ongoing communications,” he added.