The next edition of sailing’s America’s Cup looks set to be staged outside New Zealand after negotiations between defender Emirates Team New Zealand, the country’s government and the city of Auckland over a hosting agreement did not come to fruition.
Auckland was the venue for this year’s contest in which Team New Zealand, representing the New Zealand Yacht Squadron, beat Italy’s Luna Rossa to retain the Cup, and was expected to fulfil the role again in 2024.
However, a three-month exclusive negotiating period has now expired without a deal being agreed, and the team now plans to speak to other countries about staging the 37th America’s Cup.
Ireland, in the shape of the southern city of Cork, has emerged as a surprise contender.
The New Zealand government and Auckland Council had put forward a ‘cash and kind’ offer of NZ$99 million ($71 million) towards the hosting costs, but this is understood to be far below what Team New Zealand was seeking, and has now been withdrawn.
In a statement, Grant Dalton, the team’s chief executive, said: “By all means, the end of the exclusive negotiation period does not eliminate all possibility of the event or an event being hosted in New Zealand. 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 defence. No matter where in the world we are, we will always be Team New Zealand. Our priority has always been to keep and defend the America's Cup successfully. We certainly want to explore holding a regatta in Auckland and along with discussing the venue for AC37 with other nations, would like to work through that opportunity also.”
Stuart Nash, the New Zealand minister of economic development, expressed disappointment at the outcome, but claimed it reflected economic realities.
In a statement, he said: “At the end of the day the America’s Cup is a global commercial operation. It is an international business as much as a sporting contest,” he said in a statement. The team is now free to look to commercial sponsors, private supporters, or other avenues to bankroll the operation.
“Any subsequent request for Government support would have to be considered by Cabinet and I cannot confirm whether the Crown would consider making another offer.”
The America’s Cup has never been held in Ireland, but Cork is among the candidates to replace Auckland, with a technical team from the event’s organising authority having visited the city at the weekend, according to reports in the country.
There were various technical briefings and site assessments, including an aerial view taken in a flight over the harbour to weigh up the prospects for an event that would provide a significant economic boost to the area, the Irish Examiner has reported.
The team also met with Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney whose spokesperson told the newspaper: “A small international team assessed sites in Cork last weekend for potential future events.
“Mr Coveney attended a number of briefings and presentations on the excellent facilities and sites Cork City and Harbour has to offer for major international tournaments. All events in his programme were compliant with public health rules.”
Other potential hosts of the 2024 America’s Cup include Valencia in Spain, the venue for the 2007 edition, Cowes in the UK, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Singapore.