Thursday, April 15, 1999

Hawaii Tourism
Authority to OK $1 mil
in sports marketing

By Russ Lynch


The Hawaii Tourism Authority is preparing to approve nearly $1 million in funding for sports events, ranging from a run around the volcano area of the Big Island to a billfish contest and a number of golf tournaments.

However, a report from the HTA's events committee, proposing the funding for activities taking place through the rest of calendar 1999, does not include any money for Aloha Racing, the organization putting together Hawaii's entry in the America's Cup yacht races starting later this year in New Zealand.

Mark Rolfing, the Maui golf consultant who chairs the events committee, said value was the main criterion in selecting 24 events for funding in 1999 out of more than 200 proposals submitted to the HTA. The authority was most interested in how much of a return the state's tourism industry could expect from the events.

The America's Cup team, which is building two yachts at Barbers Point, didn't measure up, Rolfing said. Aloha Racing is seeking $3 million in state backing. If the Hawaii entry wins, the next America's Cup race would be held in the islands. There is a bill in the state Legislature that would provide $1 million in state funding if Aloha Racing comes up with $2 million from other sources.

Rolfing also told yesterday's HTA meeting that even those events that did meet the value requirement could be run better to produce more results.

"It has become clear that lack of management and marketing talent in sports in Hawaii is very evident," he said. Rolfing said the proposed activities are impressive but the organizers need help in developing and promoting them.

Once contracts are signed, his committee plans to sit down with the organizers and provide that help, he said.

The list of events was circulated among HTA members yesterday and they are being asked to vote on it next week, as a complete package, not item by item. However, some events could be dropped or added by then.The biggest items are $100,000 each for two golf tournaments on Kauai and another on Maui. The smallest items are $2,000 for the USA 25K run put on by the U.H. Athletic Department, $5,000 for a body surfing contest on the North Shore and $10,000 for a marathon on the Big Island. The proposed funding total is $957,000. Next Wednesday, Rolfing's committee will present the HTA with a list of sports events proposed for funding in 2000 as well as a list of cultural events slated for HTA funding this year.

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