Lloyd Burr: Give Emirates Team New Zealand more money

"We've waited 14 years for this moment. And our team members will be hot property right now. "
"We've waited 14 years for this moment. And our team members will be hot property right now. " Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: What a joke yesterday's Team New Zealand funding announcement was.

"Congrats for winning sport's oldest piece of silverware, here's two-fifths of sweet f*#+k all to win it again," said the Government.

The team pulled off an almost impossible feat, beating Larry Ellison's multi-billion-dollar operation at his own game with rules and odds stacked hugely against us.

We did it. We've waited 14 years for this moment. And our team members will be hot property right now.

Remember what happened after we defended the Auld Mug in 2000? Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth were poached by pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli for a rumoured $5m each. A handful of others from the Kiwi boat were poached too.

Have we not learnt our lesson? The vultures are already circling again, and have been since we won the challenger series.

I wouldn't be surprised if Peter Burling, Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, or any of the other 88 Emirates Team New Zealand members had already be approached by other syndicates, with big blank cheques.

Peter Burling could name his price and be gone before the Sports Minister Jonathan Coleman could say congratulations. He's 26, the youngest helmsman to ever win the Cup. He has a huge future and he'd be a bloody good investment for any team. We must ensure that team is ours.

Otherwise, I can see the headlines already: "Tauranga traitor" or "Burling's Betrayal". We must do all we can to keep him here. The others too, because the team is much bigger than just Burling.

Before you cry out about corporate welfare, let me remind you how much the Government paid to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup: $190m for a new stand at Eden Park, $15m for Dunedin's brand new stadium, $15m for a new stand at Christchurch's old AMI Stadium, and $2.5m for Whangarei's stadium.

Ratepayers also forked out hundreds of millions for venues and other facilities.

Total funding for Team New Zealand since the successful 2000 defence has been around $83m, including yesterday's announcement: 

  • 2003 defence: $8.6m
  • 2007 challenge: $34m
  • 2013 challenge: $36m
  • 2017 challenge: $5m

The economy has so much to gain from the America's Cup being in New Zealand. The 2000 and 2003 campaigns boosted the economy by around $500m each. The tax revenue from wages alone for the 2007 and 2013 campaigns more than paid back the $34m and $36m investments respectively.

How much coin did the Rugby World Cup make for the country? Nothing. It cost us.

Let's be real about this. There's real value in putting taxpayer cash into the team.

Otherwise, we will all have to relive those haunting 5 races from 2003 when Kiwis stole the cup away, and took it to the other side of the world.

Lloyd Burr is a Newshub political reporter.

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