By Robert Tuomi
(WINDSOR, ON) – The recent lacklustre FINA World Cup in Tokyo in October has raised a number of red flags that suggest Windsor has tied its global fame aspirations to the wrong horse. Serious questions have surfaced about FINA, the organization ineffective councillor, and now interim mayor, Drew Dilkens thinks will put the city on the world stage.
After Tokyo, it doesn’t look that promising, but still Dilkens has no qualms spending at least $21 million of taxpayer money to find out, firsthand, with his hosting of its second tier, short, minor swimming competition, next year.
FINA’s most outspoken critics are the writers at swimvortex.com. What they are saying should really be a reality check for the Francis Council and its reckless pursuit of greatness at any cost.
What is worrisome is the considerable pretence starting to surround the FINA event, slated for a temporary pool at Windsor’s east end arena. It is reminiscent of the pretence that smothered the International Children’s Games in Windsor in 2013.
It has been said that FINA will bring the world’s best swimmers to the city. Not if Swimvortex’s Craig Lord is right.
In an October 27 editorial he casts doubt about minor FINA competitions being able to capture the cream of the crop.
Writing about the World Cup in Tokyo, he says the, “… big prize has been won by the same people season after season of late; that the format is unappealing; that the vast majority of elite swimmers in the world – those earned top 50 across all events – are bypassing the World Cup as a series year after year.”
What Lord says next should really question Windsor’s willingness to bankroll FINA.
Windsor is hoping sponsors will cover much of its costs. Apparently there was an extreme shortage of them supporting Tokyo’s competition.
The event did not have what Lord has seen out “… in the wider world of sport.”
We find events that have headline sponsors and then break down their offer and get sponsors for the leader boards; sponsors for the result sheet; sponsors for uniforms, partners for the digital packages for players and fans and broadcasters and other media; backers for many other aspects of big-event hosting; complete with catering and the things that make for a great family day out.
FINA apparently also had severe problems attracting an audience. Lord found banks, “… of empty seats.”
If a major event like the World Cup can’t attract an audience, what guarantee is there that Windsor will?
Lord also seems to dispute the claim Windsor will inspire the media. It turns out they don’t cover minor events beyond the big two of the Olympics and the FINA long course (L/C) competition.
[The world’s best swimmers] have myriad priorities, the Olympic Games and World L/C Championships [are] still the only moments that bring the very best together to showcase swimming at its best. Swimming and the selection processes and decisions and budgets of domestic federations have largely rejected FINA’s World Cup as a showcase worth getting on the plane for. It is a minor moment.
Odds appear good Windsor’s minor moment will be as media non-attractive as the International Children’s Games.
All this suggests Windsor made a very costly financial mistake which will gobble up taxpayer’s hard-earned cash and deliver very little. It is, if Lord is right, on track to suffer another high cost but low reward event.
Robert Tuomi can be heard at 8:30 pm every Monday evening and noon every Wednesday co-hosting Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor on CJAM 99.1 FM. Listen on demand to previous episodes or catch the discussion live and join in. Talkin’ ‘Bout Windsor is broadcast every Monday and Wednesday to the Windsor and Detroit listening area and streamed online at CJAM.