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Beware of hosting the America’s Cup

Published on January 30th, 2023

When the hosting rights of the America’s Cup were first put out to bid for the 2007 event, it began a new chapter for event. Leveraging the venue’s value has become a new income stream for the Defender, and it is fair to say the Defender has generally benefited more than the host.

The latest City to invest in the America’s Cup commercial impact is the Spanish port city of Barcelona, though as Chris Collings offers in this report, the 2021 event is a reminder of what you see when the smoke clears:

I’m visiting family in New Zealand at present and stopped by the Viaduct basin in Auckland where AC36 was based out of. Beginning with earlier AC campaigns and finalized in full scale for AC36, the Viaduct basin, the neighboring yacht basin, and the waterfront trade/conference center was fully committed to Team New Zealand and the efforts to successfully race and defend the Cup.

An industrial area was cleared to accommodate the yachts, the various AC teams, and a long list of luxury hotels etc. This was no small-scale commitment by the New Zealand national government, Auckland city council, and private property developers.

But now, after COVID and with AC37 sold to the highest bidders in Spain, the entire area is half starved for boats, businesses, and visitors. The Yacht basin built for the visiting AC teams is empty, as is the convention center. The Viaduct basin is at about 50% capacity.

Gone is the activity and action of the various teams, gone are the large yachts that follow this level of yachting, gone are many of the small businesses that had to pack up and leave from lack of business.

The who said what, did what, and ripped off whomever are now water under the bridge – it really doesn’t matter because it’s done and the lost opportunities are echoing off the empty buildings and docks.

The victims are the rate payers throughout Auckland that have not been given a return on the extensive investments. The victims are the small businesses that no longer have an active center for the trades, the crews, and the tourists and fans that won’t be back.

The aggressors are the various government agencies that squandered years of infrastructure development – they are guilty of governmental malpractice, while Defense CEO Grant Dalton is guilty of simple hubris and a hunt for personal fame and fortune.

Everyone involved in the process has a red hand and should be ashamed of the lost opportunities. The NZ government and local council exhibited extraordinary lack of vision and appreciation for the value of the economic engine created by the now missing teams and the collateral activities and businesses.

Dalton demonstrated his absolute lack of appreciation for the investments and gifts made available to him. He threw away the support of his countrymen and the national pride that came with hosting and maintaining the Hundred Guinea Cup.

New Zealand is not the simpler place it was when it hosted in 2000 and 2003. Today it has its share of first world problems: housing, homelessness, a need for good jobs. For sure, they could make a case not to support a bunch of over privileged yachties while so many good people struggle, but this final outcome is a total disaster and should stand as a lesson to all about the cost of lost opportunity and personal hubris and greed.

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup will be held in September/October 2024.

Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
INEOS Britannia (GBR)
Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
NYYC American Magic (USA)
K-Challenge Racing (FRA)

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