America's Cup gives much-needed boost to Auckland businesses

A packed-out viaduct for America's Cup racing has provided a much-needed boost to local business, but it isn't quite the cure-all we were hoping for. 

Although racing was cancelled on Sunday due to low winds, hundreds of people packed local businesses around central Auckland.

It's been a roller coaster ride for businesses in the Viaduct as the city moved in and out of recent lockdowns.

"You go from zero revenue to having to try and scale up in a very short space of time," says Fraser Shenton, general manager of The Good Luck Coconut.

When Auckland moved to alert level 1, businesses went from zero to 100 very quickly.

"Feeling incredibly positive. This is what we've been waiting three years for, so it all came yesterday at once and now we've got another massive day ahead," says Tricky Hartley, owner of The Conservatory.

It was so busy the bars struggled to keep up. 

"We had 19 staff. If this was pre-COVID and we were going as normal, we'd have had a lot more, but unfortunately, there's just no staff around," Hartley says.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment predicted the America's Cup would pump $1 billion into New Zealand's economy, but that was before COVID-19 hit. Without tourists, that could be a stretch, but could we make back the $250 million Auckland Council and the Government put into the event? 

"Everybody understands we're not going to get close. Certainly getting good visitation through this weekend has created a good shot in the arm for Auckland business," says Steve Armitage,  Auckland Unlimited General Manager Destination.

But the steady flow of drinks and people isn't a cure-all. 

"Lockdowns just destroy us, there's no making up for it," Shenton says.

And while we might not get back every dollar we put in, there could still be some benefits.

"From a council perspective, it was into hard infrastructure, so from our side of things there's a legacy benefit," Armitage says.

At this rate, it's one we'll be making the most of for at least the next few days.