America’s Cup: Auckland Mayor says Team New Zealand has never had it so good

Auckland has already provided Team New Zealand with the best base it has ever had, Mayor Phil Goff says, and warned the city did not want millions of taxpayer or ratepayer money going into an event hosting fee.

The Herald today revealed a joint offer from the Government and Auckland Council to tryto convince Team New Zealand to choose to defend the America’s Cup in Auckland had apparently been rejected by the syndicate.

The package put on the table by the Crown’s appointed negotiators is believed to be worth around $100 million. Team New Zealand is said to be wanting a package worth around $200m.

Speaking to the Herald, Goff declined to discuss the state of negotiations, but believed what was being offered was “a very fair deal”.

Auckland had “been hugely supportive” already, showing support during racing and providing top-class facilities for racing worth tens of millions of dollars, he said.

In 2018, the Government and Auckland Council gave Team New Zealand a package worth more than $130 million to defend the America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021, including major works on Auckland’s waterfront to accommodate the event.

“That is absolutely fit for purpose. The team base is at the heart of the city. People from all three syndicates – Luna Rosa, Inneos [Team UK] and American Magic – all told me that they thought it was a superb venue, both the courses and the facilities that they had in their location in the city. They’re all keen to come back,” Goff said.

“We gave them superb facilities. They’ve never had as good a base as they had with the use of the events centre, and we made the investment in them and we’d like to see that reciprocated,” he said.

“The venue gets better and better from the team’s perspective.”

Team New Zealand did not wish to respond to Goff’s comments.

In a statement this morning, TNZ said they had recently received the Government and Auckland Council’s “position”, which would be considered in coming days.

“Emirates Team New Zealand is currently still within the exclusive three-month negotiation period with Government and council, so it is premature to comment on commercial negotiations until they have concluded,” a spokesman said.

“However, we have only recently received the Government and Council position, which we will now carefully consider over the next two weeks.”

Goff told the Herald he believed Team New Zealand had a clear advantage in staying at an event they knew and had won on before.

“The crew members of Team New Zealand were very happy to be with their families on home ground and to get that home support in a familiar area. All of those things lend to the decision by Team New Zealand, should be to defend it, again, here,” Goff said.

“Everything is there and ready to go. I think that that’s a big advantage for Team New Zealand. There’s no element of risk to it. It’s been tried and tested and been found to be totally fit for purpose.”

Aucklanders would be “incredibly disappointed” if the world’s oldest sporting competition was taken overseas by Team New Zealand,” Goff said.

“I think they would feel let down and there’s just no way around that. At the same time, I’ve also received a very clear message that having invested in the infrastructure, already having sunk the $112 million, doing it on time, to specifications, Aucklanders would not be keen in the difficult post-Covid times that we have financially, to see a whole lot of extra taxpayer money going into simply contributing to a host fee.”

Goff admitted his confidence that Auckland would host the next America’s Cup was shaken when it was revealed prior to the 36th America’s Cup starting that Team New Zealand was seeking interest from other cities around the world to host the regatta.

“My confidence was, I’ve gotta say, shaken, when we found out even before the final races that Team New Zealand was negotiating overseas with other venues,” Goff said, and he believed that the city had assumed that having invested in the last America’s Cup, that if Team New Zealand won, they would host it again.

“I think that certainly was the assumption that Aucklanders made,” Goff said.

“We would expect that having made that investment, or Aucklanders would expect, that having made that investment, that Team New Zealand would be keen, as almost always happens, that they would defend the cup on their own soil.”

Because of Covid-19, which caused borders around the world to be closed, taxpayers and ratepayers did not get the benefit which might have been assumed at the time the funding was announced.

“While we held the cup successfully we didn’t get the benefits from the cup that we would in normal circumstances, of probably a couple of hundred million dollars of work for the marine industry on refitting superyachts, and the funding for the hospitality and accommodation industry that we would have got through international tourists.”

There was “an upper limit to what can be offered by Government and by [Auckland] Council, because we’ve got to be fair to the ratepayer and the taxpayer, but we think that the offer that’s made is a very fair deal”.

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