The annual Christmas Carnivals are set for a bumper series this month, with a review commissioned by the Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania (SCAT) set to be undertaken to aid the track cycling highlight into a new era.
While Tasmanian cycling is at an all-time high, the Christmas Carnivals which incorporates track cycling and athletics over four separate days, have slipped from their former glory with events like the Falls Festival (music) and the Hobart Food and Wine Festival all bidding for the public's time, money and attention.
Victorian-based, sport focussed consultancy company Jump Media will observe this year's carnivals with the objective of preparing a report for SCAT to be delivered by the end of February 2012.
Mike Gunson, President of SCAT explained to Cyclingnews that it's the right time for the carnivals to evolve.
"No real formal review has been undertaken for the carnival," he admitted. "We've had internal reviews, but nothing from a formal perspective, particularly from an outside organisation. The Tasmanian Government, our major sponsor puts in $150,000 a year and we want to make sure the carnivals are in a position to move forward in a positive way.
"All in all, we still feel there's a bright future for the carnivals but perhaps we need to tweak how they're run. And I think it's time for that to occur."
The strongest field in many years will line up for the four events, starting December 17 at Rosebery, with 10 scratchmen – RusVelo stars Evgeny Kovalev, Ivan Kovalev, Alexey Markov and Alexander Serov, Ben Kersten, Glenn O'Shea, Simon Van Velthooven, Franco Marvulli, Luke Ockerby and Scott Law - set to line up. Headlining the women's field will be Belinda Goss, Amy Cure, Annette Edmondson and Evgenia Romanyuta.
Certainly this year, given the talent on offer, the actual product for the viewing public should not be an issue however the way it's being presented is a key area of doubt for organisers with carnival days running around 12 hours – a big ask for an increasingly time-poor society.
"We need to operate on a model where the highlights of the carnival are during the evening," Gunson suggests. "With bigger crowds we can then ask sponsors for more money."