Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Beckham fiasco at Mt Smart Stadium: ‘tension’ in the public sector operating commercially

Beckham fiasco at Mt Smart Stadium: ‘tension’ in the public sector operating commercially
February 8, 2010

The LA Galaxy/Oceania All Stars football match in December 2008 was the "wrong event, at the wrong time" according to a report by the New Zealand Auditor-General's Office.

Auckland Regional Council (ARC) lost $1.88 million in hosting the event at the Mount Smart Stadium when far fewer people purchased tickets to the match than the Council expected. The Chairman of the Council subsequently asked the Auditor-General to review the Council's handling of the event.

The recently released findings of the review have been explained by Phillippa Smith, the deputy controller and Auditor-General.

Smith stated, "we conclude that, despite the efforts of the council officers involved, the loss occurred because the LA Galaxy/Oceania 'All Stars' match was in essence the wrong event, at the wrong time, for the wrong price.

"The council has come to largely the same conclusion."

Smith added that the review had found that the council lacked systems for monitoring and overseeing such events and the Mt Smart operation "is something of an orphan in the council structure".

"It does not fit well with the council's other functions and operations, and the council had not, at the time, considered or agreed on suitable governance and business models for it."

The council wanted Mt Smart Stadium to operate commercially but the decision to promote the LA Galaxy event was made without a formal business strategy or a clear policy about the level of commercial risk that the council was willing to assume, Smith continued.

"We are satisfied that the council has correctly identified the problems with its governance and management of Mt Smart Stadium, and that it is taking appropriate steps to address those problems. Therefore, we have not made any specific recommendations for the Council. However, we trust that this report will provide some useful guidance for all public entities - especially those with commercial operations."

A key message within the report, which has wide-reaching implications for commercial operations undertaken by the public sector, was contained in its last two paragraphs, which read:

"There is a tension inherent in operating commercially in the public sector.

"Public officials must ensure that publicly owned assets are used effectively and efficiently for the benefit of the community (which might include earning income from those assets) and without waste or extravagance.

"The obligation to use the facility efficiently means that the entity cannot decline to carry out commercial activities. Yet business opportunities rarely come without risk. The public sector commercial manager needs to balance the need to exploit business opportunities and take on business risk with the obligations of being a steward of public assets."

The event's losses led to the resignation of two senior ARC executives in April last year, Parks General Manager Lance Vervoort and Mt Smart Stadium Group Manager John Lynch leaving their posts.

For more information go to


Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all


Vticket Pty Ltd is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for Gateway Ticketing Systems Inc., the world leader in high-speed access control, admission control and ticketing software for the…

read more

Attractions / Security / Technology / Ticketing / Venues


iDwala Pty Ltd

iDwala is the Community Sports Surface Specialist offering the highest quality designs and technical expertise to Councils, Schools and Sporting Clubs looking to create sporting…

read more

Consultants / Design / Recreation / Sport / Surfaces


Pico Play

Pico Play is a global leader in the planning, design, development and construction of world-class themed attractions and entertainment that deliver extraordinary and memorable experiences to millions…

read more

Attractions / Consultants / Design / Recreation / Tourism


@leisure Planners

@leisure is a team of experienced leisure, aquatic and sports facility managers and planners, with market modelling, sports management, recreation planning, business and GIS qualifications. We have…

read more



The Pool Enclosure Company

Welcome to The Pool Enclosure Company (TPEC). We provide a large range of premium commercial and residential retractable swimming pool, spa and terrace enclosures throughout Australia, servicing…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues


The P.A. People

The P.A. People is a specialist integrator and contractor in sound reinforcement, audio visual systems, performance lighting and production communications. Over its almost 50 year history the company…

read more

Entertainment / Events / Sport / Technology / Venues



Digonex is a leading provider of customised dynamic pricing solutions to clients in arts and entertainment, sport, attractions, cultural institutions and retail sectors. Digonex’s technology is…

read more

Attractions / Entertainment / Sport / Technology / Ticketing


Hadley/Series Australia Pty Ltd

Hadley Australia and Series Australia Pty Ltd are the leading quality theatre chair manufacturers in the southern hemisphere. The businesses work closely with architects, interior designers and…

read more

Arts / Culture / Design / Entertainment / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business