Many residents and small business owners in Newcastle East are breathing a sigh of relief.
Still reeling from the COVID-19 lockdown, the very idea they might be expected to face nine weeks behind concrete barricades during the end-of-year holiday period was causing a great deal of anxiety.
Those outside the precinct who enjoy East End attractions are also likely to feel relieved that the city's cafes, parks and beaches won't be fenced off for the duration of the Supercars bump-in-and-out period.
It's a good time to consider whether the ordeal imposed on so many unwilling citizens in the name of boosting tourism was really such a good idea.
At the very least, Novocastrians should be given the opportunity to have some open discussion about council's major events policy.
This event was approved and deals signed without even the elected councillors being told what it would cost (Newcastle Herald, June 9,2018).
There were no plans put on public display until it was too late for even our elected representatives to influence its location.
The reality is that staging motor racing events through residential streets is a great drain on ratepayers and on many businesses who were told in the early days they would 'make a motza'.
Instead, Newcastle East Residents Group's own survey of businesses after the 2017 event showed the majority in the CBD through to Darby Street suffered a significant economic downturn.
Then there was the promise of a television viewing audience of 220 million which would put Newcastle 'on the map', attracting future tourists and business investment.
Our city did look good on television. Novocastrians had a right to feel proud of their city. But the warm glow effect has been wearing thin more recently, as more people resent the intrusion and the loss of public amenity.
Many businesses, supportive during the first year, now count the costs rather than any profits.
The extent of the exaggeration of Supercars benefits claims had to be revealed by the residents group, chasing information through freedom of information channels.
Was there 192,241 spectators at the 2017 event? Hardly. The Newcastle Herald (November 16, 2018) revealed a discrepancy between these figures and the Telstra data, paid for by council to use in their evaluation of the event.
The warm glow effect has been wearing thin more recently, as more people resent the intrusion and the loss of public amenity
While both sets of numbers were almost identical, they were for different geographical areas. The Telstra data was not a count of spectators, but an estimation of the number of people in the whole Cooks Hill and Newcastle city area.
In fact, there could not have been more than 80,000 at the event - with 58.2 per cent receiving free tickets. But council and Destination NSW have continued to spruik Supercars figures as the 'official' count each year. There was also council's own evaluation of the event, directed by councillors to weigh up its costs and benefits.
However, costs were withheld and an independent assessment of its assumptions found the parameters used exaggerated the benefits by more than 50 per cent (The Newcastle Herald, August 31, 2019).
And the 220 million viewers? After the 2018 event, even the Lord Mayor was claiming a more realistic figure of just over one million (The Newcastle Herald, November 28, 2018).
Do major events put the city on the world stage? Whether or not spectators at big sporting events return to visit the city as tourists was challenged by the Canberra auditor general when reviewing the Supercars event in 2002.
It has also been challenged by academic researchers who have found tourists who attend major sporting events are attracted by the sport and tend to follow the event to different locations rather than return to the host city as tourists.
Newcastle East was already a popular tourist destination before Supercars came to town. The Foreshore and Pacific Parks are locations for wonderful, locally grown events, warmly welcomed by residents and local businesses alike.
They unite rather than divide the Newcastle community. Yet they are forced to leave the area during the three months set aside for the Supercars event.
Post COVID-19 we have the opportunity to reset the city's tourism objectives. Major events need to be chosen after public consultation, with plans put on public display.
The time that the public is barred from using public land needs to be taken into account and a detailed business case completed to ensure benefits really do flow on to the city as a whole.