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America’s Cup: Navigating a budget crisis

Published on May 31st, 2020

With drastic measures taken to halt the spread of the COVID-19 disease, businesses are failing and government budgets are imploding. No city has been spared, and worse are those that have invested  significantly in sporting events.

Top of that list is Tokyo as the postponement  of the 2020 Olympics could add another $2.7 billion to their ballooning budget. That’s some serious suffering, and it will be tough for the citizenship to swallow the sacrifice needed to host the summer games.

On a lesser scale, but no less painful is what New Zealand must navigate to host the 36th America’s Cup, as the real life impact of COVID-19 at Auckland Council has been laid bear with savage cuts needed for operating expenses.

Mayor Phil Goff (above) said the council has taken a $525 million hit in revenue from the pandemic – the highest faced by any council and the highest in the city’s history.

“This is an emergency budget. We cannot respond to this crisis as business as usual. We have to cut our spending and manage our finances responsibly,” he said.

However, with the America’s Cup competition schedule to commence in December, the council plans to keep spending its $98.5m budget on the event. Close the libraries, cut off public transportation, but let the yachties play? That’s a lot of navigating!

Of course, before any benefit can come to Auckland, they have to open their country to the three challenging teams. The New Zealand border has been closed to non-New Zealand citizens and residents since March, with very limited exceptions such as health workers.

Rolling the dice on that occurring soon is the American Magic team backed by New York Yacht Club. As hurricane season approached their Florida base, their boat is now enroute to Auckland and their plan, ideally, is to be sailing by July.

American Magic skipper Terry Hutchinson was encouraged the entry exemptions that New Zealand immigration officials had recently handed foreign movie makers would pave the road for their arrival.

“This gives us a lot of hope that our plans to arrive in early-to-mid June may be able to proceed,” Hutchinson said.

Editor’s note: This report had previously stated how there has been a $525 billion hit in revenue, which we have learned was a typo from our source at the NZ Herald. It was meant to state $525 million.


36th America’s Cup
In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and the Netherlands were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAW
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAW

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have allegedly made their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol, they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
✔ March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series events (CANCELLED)
✔ October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
✔ February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched (DELAYED)
✔ April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia (CANCELLED)
✔ June 4-7, 2020: Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England (CANCELLED)
December 17-20: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 6-15, 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1


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