America’s Cup venue question: Business leaders call for Team New Zealand to stay put

Reports the next America’s Cup could move overseas – should Team New Zealand successfully defend it – have business leaders worried.

The latest report suggests a single challenger event in the Isle of Wight after revelations the next regatta could be staged anywhere from Australia to the Middle East to Europe.

Auckland Business Chamber chief executive Michael Barnett says Team NZ must stay loyal.

”I think we all understand that they have a choice – they can sell themselves to the highest bidder and show us what they are or they can remember that over time they have captured the imagination of a nation when they needed support and funding,” he said.

Now was the time to keep the series in Team NZ’s home, he said.Auckland ratepayers and taxpayers had forked out $250 million, mainly for infrastructure but including a Government-funded $40m event fee for a subsidiary of the syndicate.

”The event is part of our event schedule and the return NZ gets financially, in good times, should be retained and protected for New Zealand,” Barnett said.

Team NZ is obliged to negotiate with the Government should it retain the Auld Mug over a three-month period but other venues will be in the running.

Team chief Grant Dalton has said it will be a struggle to keep the crew together without hometown financial support given international syndicates’ wealth.

Soon after defending the Cup in 2000 the team was ripped apart when key members were headhunted by Swiss challenger Alinghi.

A Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment report in 2017 put the economic spinoff for the America’s Cupat between $555m and $977m to New Zealand over the 2018-2021 period.

The pre-pandemic study said thelong-term impacts of the event and the infrastructure spend related mostly to lifting Auckland and New Zealand’s marine industry’s profile.

Marine NZ executive director Peter Busfield said today if defended, the series needs to stay here or else the country would lose nearly all the value of holding on to the trophy.

”While Emirates Team New Zealand may be desperate for cash to stay in business — and retain their 30 design engineersand sailors if they sell the hosting rights to another country they will stay in business as a world class sailing team but NZ would, I believe, lose 90 per cent of the value of the being the holder of the America’s Cup.”

Busfield said Team NZ was better off staying in this country and ”crying poor” so the Government, corporates, small and large companies and individuals would need to step up to save the team if the country wanted to keep hosting here.

He said the financial gain of having additional 160 superyachts visiting ( largely lost this time around) was $2.7 million per yacht or $430m total.

Other benefits included the value to demonstrate New Zealand as tech savvy and a leader in many fields internationally.

”If New Zealand was not involved in the America’s Cup and the technology was not available to be passed down to New Zealand companies then companies such as Rocket Lab would not be in NZ or at minimum would have had to import the technologyto build their rocket shells,” said Busfield.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa chief executive Chris Roberts said there were direct economic benefits from those attending the event.

”However, the biggest impact is on New Zealand’s brand and exposure around the world. The value of that is much harder to measure, but having the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland shown off on TV screens around the world has huge value,” he said.

”Auckland also now has the necessary infrastructure in place, so hosting another series would utilise that existing investment.”

Auckland business group Heart of the City says there is no doubt that the Cup has attracted spending this summer but because of the pandemic it was nowhere near earlier forecasts.

Chief executive Viv Beck said while there were clearly negotiations to be had over any future venue, she hoped it would be re-run here.

”As an event it is wonderful and events do attract lots of people,” she said.

Auckland Unlimited has been promoting the event over summer but today had no comment on the impact of a possible venue shift.

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