America's Cup Auckland deal falls flat

Ben McKayAAP
Helmsman Peter Burling and Team New Zealand celebrate their America's Cup win in March.
Camera IconHelmsman Peter Burling and Team New Zealand celebrate their America's Cup win in March. Credit: AP

New Zealand's quest for a historic America's Cup three-peat is likely to head overseas after an impasse in hosting rights negotiations.

On Wednesday, the NZ government's exclusive window to negotiate a deal for hosting the sailing regatta, due for 2025, shut without an agreement.

The winners of each event, in this case Team New Zealand from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), can choose where to hold their defence.

After winning the 2017 race, RNYZS struck a multi-million dollar deal with the New Zealand government and Auckland Council to host its defence in the city of sails.

But now, the RNZYS is eyeing a bigger payday than what the government is prepared to guarantee, and will entertain foreign suitors.

"It is disappointing," Economic Development Minister Stuart Nash said.

"We want the next America's Cup raced in New Zealand.

"Tens of thousands of diehard Kiwi fans who turned out to support the historic defence of the Cup in March want it raced in New Zealand.

"At the end of the day the America's Cup is a global commercial operation. It is an international business as much as a sporting contest.

"The team is now free to look to commercial sponsors, private supporters, or other avenues ... we wish the team all the best."

Taxpayer support to host the 2021 event in New Zealand has been reported to be about $NZ250 million ($A231m).

The glamour and the tourism pull of each regatta led the government to believe hosting rights could be worth up to $NZ1 billion ($A926m) - though such benefits were nullified by COVID-19 border restrictions.

Mr Nash said the government's 2025 hosting offer involved "cash and in-kind support worth around $NZ99 million".

The NZ Herald has reported Team New Zealand wanted twice that figure.

Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton said the refusal of NZ's bid came as "we must explore other opportunities to ensure we can put up another successful defence".

"We certainly want to explore holding a regatta in Auckland and along with discussing the venue for AC37 with other nations, would like to work through that opportunity also," he said.

Negotiations are a big issue in New Zealand, a proud sailing nation, with neither side wanting to appear for taking the event offshore.

Equally, the government is eager not to be spendthrifts with public money.

Team New Zealand are the two-time defending champions after beating Italian challengers Luna Rossa 7-3 in March.

No country outside the Unites States has won the coveted Cup, considered the pinnacle of sailing, more than twice.

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