Church was 'unware' of WYD payout

The Catholic Church has distanced itself from the $41 million payout to the racing industry for World Youth Day saying the Church was unaware of the terms of the compensation package until they were made public.

A day after the state and federal government announced they would share the cost of the 10-week shutdown of Randwick Racecourse, a briefing paper was released to church leaders providing "talking points" to help quell criticism of the hefty
price tag.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports the paper includes pointers on the terms of settlement, why the church preferred Randwick over Sydney Olympic Park and the reason behind Randwick Racecourse need to be vacated for 10 weeks.

According to the paper, a "significant portion" of the money is unrelated to World Youth Day and provides long-term benefits to the racing industry.

Of the $41 million package, $7 million had been allocated for capital works that the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) had been planning before the event and another $3 million was for unspecified costs incurred by the club, and a 50-year extension to its lease.

A further $10 million was only as insurance in case the racing surface needed repair.

The AJC will stage an electronic music festival in May for 30,000 concertgoers at the racecourse.

Ironically, despite a week of disruptions, the racing industry has not raised the same concerns as it did for WYD - that horses would be startled by track works and have to be moved.

The Church will not disclose how much of its own money it is spending on WYD, but says it is a "very considerable contribution".

Operational plans for the event were given final approval by the Vatican this week.

Church tells how to answer critics of papal visit cost (Sydney Morning Herald, 14/12/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
World Youth Day 2008
Australian Jockey Club

Vatican delegation arrive for WYD (CathNews 16/10/07)
Randwick still unconfirmed for WYD (CathNews 08/10/07)
$41m Govt Randwick handout thrills WYD organisers (CathNews 16/11/07)
WYD construction an equine flu risk: Randwick trainers (CathNews 20/09/07)
WYD registrations exceeding expectations (CathNews 04/09/07)

14 Dec 2007