America’s Cup unlikely to remain in NZ, Jacinda Ardern says Govt wants it here

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has reiterated the Government wants New Zealand to host the next America’s Cup here, amid signs the defence is heading overseas.

No final decision has been made about where the next America’s Cup will be held – but it is highly unlikely that it will be in New Zealand.

Ardern told Radio Hauraki this morning: “Our view is that we want it to be hosted here.

“We’ve put our best foot forward, but there’s also limits to what we can do,” she said.

“Because, you know, this is taxpayer-funding, ultimately – so it’s got to always be to a benefit to New Zealand.”

Ardern said there was therefore a point where one could not justify the amount of money going in.

“We’ve tried to make that judgment about where that line is. We’ve put our best foot forward.

“Really now, it’s in their court – that’s how I see it.”

Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton on Tuesday night told more than 400 members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) that it was extremely unlikely that an agreement with the Government to stage the next event on Kiwi waters would be reached, after more than three months of negotiations had failed.

Dalton was addressing RNZYS members at the club’s headquarters on Team NZ’s reported plans to take the event offshore.

The Kiwi syndicate retained the Auld Mug by beating Italian outfit Luna Rossa in the Cup Match in March.

Butterworth: Team NZ in tough position

Four-time America’s Cup winner Brad Butterworth was at last night’s meeting and told Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning that Team NZ was in a “tough position”.

He stressed that Dalton had said a final decision on the next venue had yet to be made.

Butterworth said it was a tough climate for Dalton. “His problem is he’s got to put a budget together that he can do a reasonable job to try and defend it,” he said.

“I think New Zealand does deserve to have the Cup here, that’s really the prize when you win it. This time in the economy and all the problems they face, it’s a pretty tough ask I think.”

If Dalton was to put his cards on the table and explain why it couldn’t be in New Zealand, Butterworth thought people would understand.

“The yacht club is in a tough position, sitting there as the trustee of the club. They want to try and do a good job of defending it and they would rather do it here.

“Everybody would rather do it here. He’s just in a tough spot.”

$100m offer rejected

Negotiators appointed by the Crown have been trying to thrash out a deal with Team New Zealand. As first reported by the Herald earlier this month, an offer worth around $100 million from the Government and Auckland Council to keep the Cup in New Zealand was rejected by Team NZ.

The Herald understands they wanted a package worth more than $200m. The three-month exclusive negotiation period with the Government ends on Thursday.

“You’ve heard that the Government and the council is putting in $100 million, $99 million actually is the number,” said Dalton.

“That’s a lot of money. But the devils of the detail, terms and conditions don’t make it that amount of money so as we sit here today, with two days to go, we don’t have a deal.

“Will we have a deal in two days – a day and a half? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s going [offshore]. There is money in town, we all know that … but it isn’t coming that easy, the phone’s not ringing off the hook.

“Everybody just needs to calm down a little bit, because although we finish the negotiation period with the Government and council on Thursday, we don’t finish the end of it being in New Zealand and in Auckland.

“It just opens it up to the chance of other bids. The last time … honestly I think it was 45 minutes before we were about to sign, to agree to go somewhere else, the deal was done to stay here.

“This is not us taking the Cup away yet, but things have changed.”

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