America’s Cup: Intrigue creates interest

Published on September 12th, 2021

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
There is talk about the FIFA World Cup shifting its massive international soccer tournament from a four-year schedule to a biennial plan. Of course it’s money driven, but the World Cup is special because it is rare. Like the America’s Cup.

The intrigue of the America’s Cup is all the pushing and pulling which occurs off the water.

As hard as it tries, the match racing format is not ideal for broadcast. That was the lesson from the Larry Ellison-Russell Coutts era in which they invested heavily to bring the AC 34 and 35 to screens worldwide. Their newly launched SailGP league is fleet racing for a reason.

But SailGP can never be the America’s Cup because it is too often. Building interest requires time to build interest, and it requires rarity. Like the America’s Cup and Olympics.

The America’s Cup is in the headlines now as cities across the globe vie to host it. This is a lesson learned from the International Olympic Committee as it vets bidders for its Winter and Summer Games. Intrigue creates interest.

Decision day for the 37th America’s Cup is September 17, 2021. Once the New Zealand defender did not get a big enough bucket of cash from their country, they put the hosting rights out to bid. This was not done casually, as the Kiwi team needs money not just to host the event, but to fund their defense.

It remains possible that private backers will supplement the Auckland offer, but it is more likely the event will be held at an arrival airport for their sponsor Emirates Airlines. Three cities have been revealed – Cork, Ireland; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; and somewhere in Spain.

The later is interesting as it was thought to be Valencia, host of AC 32 and 33, though the government admitted they are still paying down debt from those events. Recent news reports now have Valencia bowing out but Barcelona leaning in.

The former is interesting as a cost-benefit analysis finds the event could be worth between €400 million and €500 million to the Irish economy, an amount far in excess of what the fee is understood to be. But Cork would not be the first city to think they could profit as host – just ask Valencia, San Francisco, and Auckland.

And then there is Jeddah, a port city on the Red Sea. Saudi Arabia is a very conservative country in which alcohol is completely banned. While the Kingdom’s wealth is real, how can the America’s Cup survive without victors spraying Mumm champagne on each other?

With the countdown growing short for the venue, then chatter will turn to the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup due to be published November 17, 2021. Intrigue creates interest… standing by.

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