Third party to run S'pore Marathon

This story was first published in The Straits Times on May 1, 2013

THE Singapore Sports Council (SSC) is set to leave future editions of the Standard Chartered Marathon Singapore (SCMS) in the hands of an outsourced private organiser.

On top of having the entire running of the annual event come under the perusal of one appointed party, the SSC will also "lease" the race's rights to the organiser for a contracted period, while retaining ownership of the event.

The organiser will be responsible for all aspects of the race - from operations to marketing.

This is a departure from the SSC's usual practice of appointing various vendors to take charge of different aspects each year.

The Straits Times understands that the local sports governing body is looking to seal a four-year deal, with an option of extending it for another three years.

It confirmed in response to queries that it has called for event promoters to submit bids, and hopes the move will benefit the race in the long run.

It said: "With a view of further enhancing the race experience for all our participants and supporters, we are exploring the possibility of partnering with a private event organiser to raise the quality of the event.

"The SSC will continue to maintain strategic oversight and steer the direction of the event, playing the role of an enabler."

It is believed that the SSC will disburse a grant on a decreasing scale over the years, to help grow the event's commercial viability.

"We believe this approach will help us optimise resources and give the private event organiser an opportunity to bring private-sector enterprise and innovation to this widely popular elite running event," it added.

The cost of running the SCMS is estimated at around $8 million. StanChart has a three-year, $9.75 million sponsorship deal which ends this year.

Terence Khoo, managing director of local sports marketing agency Enterprise Sports Group, believes this is testament to a maturing local sports industry.

He said: "This means our sports industry has matured to a level where the SSC believes that service providers out there will be able to deliver a product, and that is a good thing.

"It's a fantastic opportunity but also a challenge at the same time. There is a need to compete and it will drive the private sector to find methods to make it a more commercially viable event."

He added that the huge undertaking of the project means that whoever is appointed is likely to still rely on partnerships with multiple parties to deliver the event.

"There are a lot of issues involved in any marathon, and no service provider can provide every single item," he said.

Nevertheless, his company is expected to bid for the marathon, along with major event organisers such as HiVelocity and Spectrum Worldwide.

Backed by Standard Chartered Bank since 2002, the SCMS has grown to be one of the key events in the local sporting calendar. About 53,000 took part last year.

It was awarded the Gold label by the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2011 and last year, becoming the first South-east Asia-based marathon to earn the certification.

The billing is reserved for top athletic events in the world, including the New York City and London marathons.

The SSC had co-organised the SCMS with the Singapore Athletic Association from 2002 until 2010, when it took full control.

It assured that the result of the bidding process will not affect this year's run.

It said: "Participants of the SCMS can be assured that this year's run will take place on Dec 1.

"We will start registration for SCMS 2013 in July."

This story was first published in The Straits Times on April 30, 2013 

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