The true cost of missing out on World Cups can't be measured by dollars and cents.
A generation of Canberrans won't know what it's like to be involved in some of the world's biggest sporting events if the ACT government continues a hard-line stance on World Cup funding.
Negotiations with Rugby Australia have somewhat stalled because of the price tag attached to being a host city for the 2027 World Cup.
The government has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to sporting investments. It no longer wants to pay top dollar for second or third-tier matches. It wants to be a major player by hosting the best teams with the best players to attract the biggest crowd and return on investment.
That's why the government turned its back on the bid for the men's Twenty20 World Cup, which will be played next year, to instead host the women's Twenty20 World Cup last year.
The government was given a guarantee of hosting the Australian women's team, but would have had to settle for minnow men's sides.
Most Canberrans would applaud the stance to aim for the best. The government cannot be expected to write blank cheques for sport, but it is a shame to deprive the audience of what will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some.
The national capital will not host any games at the women's soccer World Cup in 2023. The government wanted a guarantee of hosting the Matildas, and then withdrew from the bid process citing "exorbitant" costs.
There is, of course, a line where the asking price becomes too high, but it is somewhat at odds with the "you can't be what you can't see" approach the government proudly spruiks when it comes to women's sport.
Young girls and boys won't get a home-town soccer World Cup experience and they're in danger of missing out on the rugby version as well.
The only thing Canberrans expect is consistency in policy. If the government is willing to pay $2.3 million for three AFL games per year, should it be willing to pay the same sort of match fee for World Cup fixtures?
The GWS Giants were AFL minnows when the government agreed to a 10-year, $23 million deal. Perhaps the government shouldn't be so quick to write off minnow nations when it comes to major tournaments. More than 20,000 fans watched Canada v Italy at Canberra Stadium during the 2003 rugby World Cup.
There were 19,000 fans at an epic Iraq v Iran quarter-final at the Asian Cup in Canberra in 2015, arguably one of the most memorable matches in the history of the venue. Neither fixture was considered a blockbuster by any means, but they gave Canberrans and visitors to the city an experience they would never forget.
There is some financial risk when states and territories commit to major tournaments. There are only so many games that involve the Australian team, leaving the rest to fight for the next best or land the unpredictable hidden gem.
But the reward would be booked-out hotels, full restaurants and an increase in visitor numbers, which would be a welcome boost after the shutdowns of the past 18 months. The government has six months to work out if the rugby World Cup is something it wants to be a part of.
The price is the price. There may be some wiggle room given the ACT's support for rugby over almost 30 years, but if Canberra doesn't pay, someone else will.
That means sitting on the couch and watching as excitement grips the rest of the nation. We're already relegated to our lounge rooms for the soccer tournament. Let's hope there's a different result for the rugby.
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