America’s Cup: Dangling the carrot

Published on June 18th, 2021

The America’s Cup has been struggling to find long-term housing. In 2013 it was San Francisco, in 2017 it was Bermuda, in 2021 it was Auckland, and the prospect of moving again for 2024 is gaining traction.

Similar to San Francisco, the home team wants more for the hosting rights than the government contends the event is worth, or at least is worth in the context of other requirements for their community. So now Team New Zealand is shopping the event abroad.

The opportunity to host the America’s Cup has gained the attention of Cork, Ireland; Cowes, UK; Doha, Qatar; Dubai, UAE; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Oman; Singapore; and Valencia, Spain. However, the popular rumor comes from Great Britain, home of the Challenger of Record.

For the passionate, proud, and supportive sailing nation, New Zealand is conflicted at the prospect of Team New Zealand moving on. The defender contends their survival relies on greater funding than what the Kiwi government and sponsors can provide, and opinion on this depends on self-interest. Here are two examples:

• Bryan Bruce, one of New Zealand’s most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals, contends there are greater social issues to be addressed.

“I have always been uncomfortable spending tax payer money on a professional sport when kids in our country are going hungry, living in substandard houses and when there is so much basic stuff we need to do for our tamariki,” said Bruce.

“We have an estimated 41,000 homeless people in our country, and Grant Dalton may think $100 million is not enough to pay for his boat and his sailors but it’s about 400,000 hardship grants to families on the poverty line.” – Full report

• Industries which benefit from the America’s Cup say it would be a “kick in the guts” if New Zealand loses its hosting rights. Richard Sigley​, of Nourish Group which owns four restaurants on the Auckland waterfront, said Cup events were “hugely profitable” for his businesses and it would be hard to lose it.

Hotels along Auckland’s waterfront were also concerned. Brett​ Sweetman, general manager of the five-star Park Hyatt, which opened last September, said the Cup brought a lot of wealth into the city, the kind of client the Hyatt attracted.

This year’s Cup had been just a taster. “We saw how successful our property was with the domestic market so I can’t even imagine how big it would if we had those international people travelling once again.” – Full report

For any hosting city, two cycles is needed to justify the infrastructure investment the America’s Cup now requires, which is a massive risk when a second event relies on the home team winning. But when the home team does win, and yet they doesn’t stay, it is a kick in the gut, regardless of your self-interest.

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