2017 World Championships could cost Hungary $177 million, would be Hungary’s largest-ever sports event

Taking over the 2017 FINA World Championships at the last minute could cost Hungary up to 49 billion Hungarian forint, or about $177 million, Hungary Today reports.

Hungary jumped into the running very late for the 2017 event, which was originally slated to go to Guadalajara, Mexico. Mexico pulled out of hosting the event back in February, citing the extraordinarily high cost of hosting a FINA event.

Budapest, Hungary popped up as the next likely host city shortly after. Budapest was already slated to host the 2021 World Championships, so the move simply moved up the time-table some for Hungary.

The brand-new facility was already set to be opened by 2017, as Budapest was already the host for the 2017 Junior World Championships.

It’s a major coup for swimming-crazy Hungary to host both events, but it comes with a steep price tag. Hungary Today reports that the World Championships could cost the host nation 49 billion forint, which roughly equates to $177 million in U.S. dollars or $157 million Euro.

Those costs are why FINA is having some speedbumps lately in getting their major events hosted. Mexico’s abrupt withdrawal was the biggest story, but Canada’s Lac Magog also pulled out of hosting one of FINA’s Marathon Swimming World Cups this week, again citing the cost to the host.

The United States, consistently one of the world’s biggest and most successful swimming nations, never appears in the hunt for the major FINA events, and when Mexico pulled out of hosting the 2017 meet, USA Swimming’s president called it an “impossible” option to have the U.S. take over hosting duties, given the high price of the event.

The flip side of the coin, obviously, is the prestige of hosting a major event, which the Hungary Today piece touches on. The 2017 World Championships, which feature swimming, diving and open water swimming among other aquatic events, could draw up to 5 billion TV viewers, according to Hungary Today,  (though that seems like a very generous estimate) and the event is being considered the largest sporting event ever to take place in Hungary.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
7 years ago

I’m sure Viktor Orban’s Hungary is up to the task even if it’s 4 years early! Their swimteams and individuals are legendary and the first Modern Games was won by a Hungarian swimmer, this is a great honor and accomplishment for all Hungarians worldwide to be proud of and I’m sure my trust is not misplaced!

7 years ago

I think the question that FINA needs to explain is why it costs $177M to put on a World Championship event. I cannot fathom how any city/country could make the economic argument that a swimming event that costs that much has a positive economic return.

I think USA Swimming has said they will not bid for one of these events because they cannot make the economics work.

I agree that bringing in corporate sponsors makes sense, but, again, unless you’re seriously fluffing the viewership numbers by doing bad audience tracking, there is just not the mainstream audience (and, hence, corporate interest) to support a swimming event at this cost structure.

Reply to  PWB
7 years ago

I agree. The cost of running a WC shouldn’t be so absurd. Make it as big of a production as you want, you’re still not going to have enough people tuning in to watch swimming to make it profitable. It’s just like how they Olympics have consistently gotten more expensive, to the point where the last few countries/cities to host the Summer OGs have encountered serious economic issues: It’s an enormous money sink that does not end up paying off nearly as well as people expect. Unless the costs are scaled back and this trend of one-upping stops, it’s going to get to the point where no country will touch those bids.

Lane Four
Reply to  PWB
7 years ago

We can agree or disagree until the cows come home that $177 million is or is not a ridiculous amount to host a “swimming meet”. But the fact remains that the best way to fund the world championships is to take a page from Peter Ueberroth’s playbook and go to the place that has the money – corporate America. I would bet that those who possess the finances would want a laid out spread sheet explaining where every penny is going and why the cost is so high. For all we know, $177 million is a fair number. Still, I would like to see forward movement rather than discussing a number that has been projected by the Hungarians.

Lane Four
7 years ago

Back in 1984, Peter Ueberroth, head of the Los Angeles Olympic Committee, actually helped to save the Olympic Games by having corporations pay for the various Olympic sites which needed to be built from the ground up. So many countries were nearly bankrupted from the costs of hosting the Games that no country wanted to put their names in the hat. Especially with the memory of Montreal’s financial disaster hosting the 1976 Games. Interestingly, The USC pool was called the McDonald’s Swim Stadium which then was given to USC by the McDonald’s corporation after the 1984 Games were over. If something as huge as the Olympic Games can be footed by various corporations, then there is no reason why the… Read more »

Reply to  Lane Four
7 years ago

FINA-level championship meets require facilities that simply do not exist in one city, and would be expensive to build.

Swimming Venue: 10 lane, 50m pool (9-10 feet deep) with a separate 8 lane 50m warmup facility. Seating for at least 5000. It’s conceivable that a temporary one can be built, but it must be coupled with, in the same city:

Diving facility (10m platform and 3m boards). 5m deep. Seating for 2000.

Water polo pools.

Open water course.

Use of pools for synchro.

After Worlds ends, FINA Masters Worlds.

The USA has no permanent FINA-standard pools. Georgia Tech was downsized, Indy doesn’t have enough lanes or seats, Goodwill Games pool doesn’t have enough seating,… Read more »

7 years ago

No US government involvement please. Govt. involvement = cost overruns, the public being taken advantage of, etc. Look to the public financing of privately owned sports stadiums to see just how bad it would be if the US govt built a pool for hosting international competitions.

USA Swimming has enough in house issues to deal with before they can even think about building a national natatorium for hosting international events.

7 years ago

Could somebody please explain to me why the US couldn’t do the same type of thing they do to run US Olympic Trials to host a LC World Championships by installing temporary pools?

Personally, I think that, in recognition for the enormous success that USA Swimming has had in the history of the Olympic Games, the US Government should give USAS a grant to open a US National Natatorium someplace in the country suitable for hosting an international level competition!

7 years ago

Am I the only person that thinks they hold the WC’s too often? How about every 4 years, two years after the Olympics? It’s probably the usual case of “follow the money.”

7 years ago

Someone needs to educate FINA and warn Hungary about the difference between a BILLION and a MILLION, as well as share some real-world statistics on television viewing habits. There is no way that ~70% (e.g., 5 BILLION) of the entire world’s population (e.g., 7.2B according to http://www.census.gov/popclock/) is going to tune in the swimming championships.

The most recent Super Bowl drew 114 million viewers (http://money.cnn.com/2015/02/02/media/super-bowl-ratings/).

I hope no one in Hungary has built any economic impact forecasts using these outlandish assumptions.

bobo gigi
Reply to  pwb
7 years ago

If I’ve well understood, that’s a cumulative audience.
An estimation of 4,5 billion people watched the last world championships in Barcelona 2 years ago.
They count the live, the delayed, the highlights, the news, the sport magazines….
So if you have watched 2 seconds of a race by accident during the TV news, you are counted as a viewer. I don’t know how they count that. 🙂

7 years ago

why dont we just drop the corrupt FINA and start from scratch with a new governing body?

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »