Persal offers $20k to keep superboats in Hervey Bay
FRASER Coast philanthropist Warren Persal will put $20,000 of his own money into keeping the Australian Offshore Superboats Championships in Hervey Bay this year.
Yesterday Fraser Coast Opportunities revealed this year's superboats event would not go ahead due to the high cost of running it.
FCO interim general manager Leigh Bennett said the decline of minor sponsors and no major sponsor meant holding the event this year would not be a "responsible economic decision".
After reading about the cancellation of this year's event Mr Persal decided to see what he could do to encourage FCO to keep the superboats.
Mr Persal's representative Steve Coleman said the event brought money into the Fraser Coast.
"We just feel the region can't afford to lose major events," he said.
"This is not a shot at council, not at FCO - we understand they may not have the funds to prop up all of these community events.
"It's all about bringing up the community spirit."
Mr Persal has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Fraser Coast community groups and is the region's current Citizen of the Year.
Mr Coleman said other large businesses could contribute cash to keeping the superboats in the region.
"We understand that council and ratepayers can't always foot the bill for every single event that came to town," he said.
"It's a call to local businesses, even though we know the way the economy is we're doing it tough - we'll do it a lot tougher without these major events.
"Other businesses may get behind this project."
Mr Bennett was reluctant to make specific comment about the offer until he spoke directly with Mr Persal.
However, the outgoing general manager of the tourism, marketing and events entity welcomed the proposal. "We're delighted people value the event enough to come forward and offer to support it," he said.
"Our decision-making has to be through our board but we'd be happy to see the event go ahead."
Mr Bennett was unsure whether it was too late to negotiate with the superboats organisers to keep the event this year.
"We don't know - it's something we'd have to speak about with them," he said.