We’ve said it several times before, but we’re not afraid of repeating it – we’re four-square behind the Tour de France’s Grand Depart being staged in Portsmouth in three years’ time.
Previously, appeals to our readers for their support – calls which have been answered handsomely – have been rooted in the more emotive end of the spectrum.
While recognising the economic benefits, they’ve concentrated on the prestige that the Tour would bring – the excitement for residents who live in this area, the lure to visit for those who don’t, and how hosting the event would push Portsmouth further on to the world stage.
All these remain true, but today we can add some harder facts into the equation. Economically, the Tour could be worth £100m to Portsmouth, Caen and their surrounding regions.
Even a worst-case scenario would see hosting Le Tour be worth £81m – a not insignificant figure.
And so the balancing act starts. Portsmouth is asking the government for £2m to prepare its detailed bid to persuade Le Tour organisers to award us the event. That, therefore, will not be any burden to the public purse locally.
And then, if successful, the cost of hosting the Tour needs to be factored in. It is estimated at £25m – and although, in the document sent to the government, Portsmouth City Council envisages that a combination of government and private sector money will cover that, it is perhaps unrealistic to think that the council can host Le Tour without paying a penny.
However, in our view it is worth that risk. Spending money on the bid will make money for the region – even if the full cost had to be met, it would be recouped by a factor of four.
We know Portsmouth can do big events well, even for more minority sports such as sailing. The enthusiasm is there for world events in this area and, despite the inevitable grumbles ahead, the overwhelming majority of people realise that roads being closed for a couple of hours is a tiny price to pay for international prestige. In short, bring on Le Tour.