Auckland has ‘small chance’ to host America’s Cup, says Grant Dalton

The announcement of the venue for the next America’s Cup is expected to be 17 September. In the meantime, Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) CEO Grant Dalton says he remains hopeful that it could still be held in New Zealand.

In a statement, Dalton says the potential venues have been narrowed to three overseas locations but there remains an ‘albeit small’ chance the 37th America’s Cup could be in Auckland, after an initial bid was rejected in June.

He says, according to the New Zealand Herald, that there has been a ‘significant number of expressions of interest from other countries to host the event.

“We need to remain hopeful that there is still a chance (albeit small), that a successful defence is held in New Zealand,” Dalton says. “As part of continuing negotiations we have provided a draft host venue agreement (HVA) to the Crown several weeks ago and are awaiting feedback. Finding the money for the event is crucial but the contractual aspects of accepting and advancing that money is of equal importance.

“In the meantime we have been busy analysing the pros and cons of the other shortlisted countries. We received a significant number of expressions of interest and that has now been narrowed to three. The expanded opportunities that appear to present themselves will enable Emirates Team New Zealand to retain all key personnel and mount a winnable defence as well as enhance the profile of the most successful America’s Cup team in history. The goal is firmly the ‘three-peat’, it has never been done before.”

Dalton has put to bed rumours of a private investor hosting the event in New Zealand.

“You will have read several weeks ago of an offer by a private investor to financially help the team,” says Dalton. “To date, with time ticking, I have only had one conversation with him and no proposal. All that we are in possession of is an elaborate flow chart showing a complex but typical investment banking structured deal, through which tax can be minimised as the Crown and the private investor’s money flows through to a company owned and controlled by him. This structure is also based on the questionable premise that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron’s status as a not-for-profit organisation would also be utilised. Emirates Team New Zealand and America’s Cup Event will have no part in any such tax structures and we are also extremely concerned that control over the team and the event would ultimately rest with private investors who have played no part in the achievements of the current team.

“Meanwhile the protocol drafting continues at pace,” says Dalton. “Along with the challenger of record we can promise an innovative protocol which addresses diversity in the sport, sustainability, youth as well as cost control to help enhance entry numbers – but that’s for another day.

Cork says it’s on the shortlist

The Irish Examiner reported in July that Cork is among the final contenders

A team from the America’s Cup visited Cork Harbour in June to assess everything from a site for a team village and local facilities and attractions, as well as the essential racing elements such as wind speed, tides, and the racing circuit, says the paper.

However, the Irish Examiner also notes that it could be costly for Ireland, citing New Zealand’s ‘post event’ report which it says makes for grim reading as cost-benefit reports point to losses of more than €90m.

It states: “The overall economic return of AC36 was much lower than forecast.

“This was due to the lower-than-expected number of challengers and then the subsequent impacts of Covid-19, as well as the costs being higher than forecast,” and “when considering financial returns only” New Zealand got 48 cents back for every dollar put in.

Impact analysis

According to the Irish Examiner the 36th America’s Cup Impact Evaluation Final Report of June 30, 2021, states: ‘The cost-benefit analysis for Auckland has identified overall costs of $629.4m (€369.84m) against benefits of $537.8m (€316m).

‘This is a net cost of $91.6m (€53.8m) and a benefit-cost ratio of $0.85 (€0.49).

‘In other words, for every dollar put in Auckland got 85 cents back.

‘When considering financial returns only, Auckland got 72 cents back for every dollar put in.’

The report also noted that for New Zealand as a whole, the cost-benefit analysis identified costs of $744.2m (€437.35) and benefits of $588.1m (€345.61m).

‘This is a net cost of $156.1m (€91.73m) and a benefit-cost ratio of $0.79 (€0.46) for both financial and non-financial impacts.’

Furthermore, the report was hailed as ‘frank’, as it detailed many challenges which beset the cup further than the pandemic.

It says the involvement of taxpayer money led to bloated bureaucracy, with many agencies wanting to be involved with decision-making, even when they weren’t tasked with the logistics of executing the event, reports Stuff.

Some meetings, the report says, had more than 40 people attending, the majority of them uninvolved with actually getting the show on the road.

Venue possibilities

The Isle of Wight, China, Saudi Arabia, Valencia and Dubai have also been tipped as possible locations.

“So watch this space,” says Dalton. “Not long now and the venue will be announced, soon after the protocol allowing teams to plan their strategies to try and win from us the oldest trophy.”

Pundits are predicting a variety of venue scenarios, with none agreeing. Rule 69 suggests: “A hybrid would work – the challenger series in Cowes and the defence in Auckland. Bring it on. It would be magnificent and look at the conditions we can serve up in the Solent – everything from flat as a witches tit at Cowes Week to screaming 40 knots at the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race – and that’s in just 48 hours.”

The official announcement is due on 17 September 2021.

Image courtesy of Studio Borlenghi.

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