WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The next defense of the America’s Cup could be held outside New Zealand after holder Team New Zealand failed to reach agreement with national and local governments on funding for a regatta in Auckland.
The New Zealand Government and the Auckland City Council have offered the syndicate 99 million New Zealand dollars ($70 million) to stage the defense of sailing’s oldest trophy in Auckland. But Team New Zealand, which defended the trophy in Auckland earlier this year, is reported to be seeking almost twice that amount to keep the event in New Zealand.
Team New Zealand general manager Grant Dalton addressed members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron — the Cup’s official host club — in Auckland on Tuesday night to explain the implications of the funding shortfall.
In a statement on Wednesday, Team New Zealand said the failure to reach agreement with the government and council does not “eliminate all possibility” of the next Cup regatta being held in Auckland. But it said Team New Zealand will now examine the possibility of accepting overseas bids to host the Cup.
The head of Britain’s America’s Cup team has offered to back an exclusive Cup regatta between Team New Zealand and the British challenger INEOS Team UK off Cowes in the Isle of Wight next year.
Dubai and the Irish city of Cork also have reportedly expressed interest in hosting the event.
Team New Zealand, the New Zealand government and Auckland council have spent three months in “exclusive” negotiations, a period which ended Wednesday.
“By all means, the end of the exclusive negotiation period does not eliminate the possibility of the event or an event being hosted in New Zealand,” Dalton said. “If resources enable an event in New Zealand we will remain open to it.
“But we must explore other opportunities to ensure we can put up another successful defense. No matter where in the world we are, we will always be Team New Zealand.”
The commodore of the RNZYS, Aaron Young, said the club also remains hopeful the Cup can stay in New Zealand.
But he said it would be “prudent to now explore other options as well, with the primary objective to ensure we keep the America’s Cup trophy in the cabinet here at the club.”
Dalton is aware that a decision to defend the Cup outside New Zealand could lead to a backlash from the taxpayers who’ve substantially funded Cup defenses in Auckland in 2000, 2003 and again this year.
America’s Cup Minister Stuart Nash described the government offer as “very generous” and “highly credible,” given the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the New Zealand economy.
Nash said he accepted TNZ’s decision to consider other options.
“We want the next America’s Cup raced in New Zealand,” Nash said. “Tens of thousands of diehard Kiwi fans who turned out to support the historic defense of the Cup in March want it raced in New Zealand. It is disappointing we were unable to reach agreement within the exclusive negotiation period.”
The America’s Cup was a global commercial operation, he said, and “an international business as much as a sporting contest.”
“The team is now free to look to commercial sponsors, private supporters, or other avenues to bankroll the operation.”
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