Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says the city’s residents will be disappointed with the decision to move the America’s Cup to Spain, but Team New Zealand’s boss is defending the move.
This morning, Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron announced the 2024 Cup will be held in Barcelona.
While the team won the event in Auckland last year, they rejected a $99 million bid from the New Zealand government and Auckland Council to hold the Cup in New Zealand.
Goff told Morning Report that commercial interests had won out, but the decision did not come as a surprise since the team had already rejected the hosting offer.
“Most of us regard the America’s Cup as an international sporting event but in fact it’s a business venture, and that latter consideration clearly prevailed in this decision.”
With taxpayers and ratepayers’ investment into the infrastructure and the success of the last round, Aucklanders would feel let down, he said.
“Every Cup challenger has said to me personally ‘this was a great venue, we’d love to have it back here, this is the place where it should be’ – every contender in the race that is except Team New Zealand, which has some irony.
“We got behind the team as Team New Zealand, we gave it all the support we could, the money was on the table there … close to $100 million, largely from government, some from council and from the private sector and still the decision was taken to hold the defence of the Cup on the other side of the world.
“We stretched ourselves considerably to create the infrastructure necessary to host the Cup here.”
However, Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton told Morning Report there simply was not enough money invested into holding the event in Auckland to cover costs, and only about a third of what was promised was tangible cash for them.
“New Zealand has put a lot of money into the America’s Cup but the primary amount of that is into infrastructure which will be there long after.”
Goff agreed on the infrastructure’s viability, adding that it would be used to headquarter the World Championship Rally later this year.
He also said negotiations were now underway on the lease for the team’s base at the viaduct, because the terms were that if the Cup was not hosted here then the space would be set back on a market rate.
“We’re not obviously going to provide rent-free base for a team that’s taken the Cup out of New Zealand.”
Dalton said he had not spoken to the mayor yet but their lease was not up until the end of the 37th America’s Cup, and negotiations were underway.
“We’re doing what is best for the team to try and hold on to the Cup, because those councillors would definitely not have an America’s Cup ever again if we stay in New Zealand for this edition.”
Dalton adamant fund were not enough to win
Dalton’s argument is that an Auckland defence would have ultimately led to Team New Zealand forfeiting the Cup forever.
“What’s the point of winning the America’s Cup if you give it away and [lose] in the same way that happened in 2003?
“If we thought for one second that we could be competitive with a realistic chance of winning the Cup in New Zealand, then that’s where we’d be.”
That went back to the problem that the money was just not there, he said.
“I’m adamant that it is impossible to raise a competitive budget, if a budget at all, in New Zealand.”
Goff said the idea that New Zealand would definitely have lost was merely Dalton’s opinion, “but I don’t think it’s shared by many of us”.
“We were not going to spend more of our ratepayers’ money than what was on the table, we thought we gave a fair deal to Team New Zealand … but clearly, it wasn’t enough.”
Team New Zealand would not be seeking funding from the government but part of the hosting fee would go towards them, Dalton said.
What Aucklanders thought
RNZ reporter Jordan Bond was out at Wynyard Quarter this morning and spoke to some Kiwis about what they thought.
He said one man told him it was a disgrace and, considering New Zealand won on its own grounds, it should be held here. The man said he hoped it could come back and suggested there should be a legal challenge.
A woman said she trusted the team knew what was best for them.
Another person said more money should have been offered to try and secure hosting because it would have been important to the country’s hospitality and tourism sectors.
Bond said some thought the money was better spend on critical systems, like housing and health.
Asked about New Zealanders feeling let down by the decision, Dalton said his first responsibility was towards the team and the legacy of those before them.
“What do New Zealanders think about an organisation that would surrender, lie down, be run over by a truck and give away the Americas Cup that they worked so hard to get if they stayed in New Zealand for this edition?”
He said he had sought out the private sector too, for a potential deal to host the Cup here.
“I sat in a meeting some months ago with four significant New Zealand rich listers and talked about the amount of money. One of them is involved with a school in New Zealand and raising money. He looked at me and said, ‘you are joking, that is not here’ and he was right.”