The big money behind the America’s Cup

Published on February 10th, 2021

The modern agenda surrounding the America’s Cup rarely has much to do with a boat race, but rather how this boat race can be used to serve a larger purpose. Here’s why governments take the gamble:


Two hundred thousand people have poured into Auckland’s waterfront to watch the 36th America’s Cup since racing started in December but it won’t be enough to bring the economic boost of up to $1 billion that was projected before COVID-19 hit.

More than $250 million in public funds from Auckland Council and the government has been spent on infrastructure and the event itself, drawing criticism that taxpayers and ratepayers should not have to support a rich man’s sport.

The immediate returns from the event won’t be known until it ends in March with a revised report from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

“A revised business case is being worked through at the moment which will provide us with a bit of a harsh reality,” says Steve Armitage, General Manager, Destination, at the economic development agency, Auckland Unlimited.

He calls the mega event a godsend and believes the benefits will roll out for years.

“We can’t just look at this just from the perspective of the visitors didn’t come during the event, that’s opportunity lost. What we’re seeing now is a captive audience, certainly in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s winter up there, many of them are still in lockdown, our product is front and centre and we’re already seeing a huge amount of interest in New Zealand off the back of this.”

Preliminary international viewing statistics provided to Auckland Unlimited show that around 100 million people watched the four days of December racing, about 25 per cent of the total viewership of the whole of AC35, the previous cup in Bermuda.

“I think over the next couple of years provided we can bank that level of interest that Auckland and New Zealand now has and convert that into people who come here and contribute to New Zealand, invest in businesses, set up their own businesses here, the long term payoff will still be there.” – Full report


Racing returns to the Hauraki Gulf on February 13 as the two remaining challengers vie for entry in the 36th America’s Cup Match.

More information:
• Prada Cup format, standings, and how to watch online: click here.
• Complete America’s Cup coverage: click here
• Additional America’s Cup information: click here

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