America's Cup: Government funding came with 'expectation' of hosting

Auckland, America's Cup
New Zealand is in the hot seat to hold the 2021 regatta, but nothing to stop it moving off-shore? Photo credit: Getty

The $5 million given to Team New Zealand (TNZ) in July from the then National Government to get the ball rolling for the next America's Cup in 2021 was made with the expectation it would be held here, but it wasn't conditional. 

It comes after a study suggested hosting the cup in New Zealand could create more than 8000 jobs and be worth up to $1 billion to the nation's economy.

Former Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges told Newshub the then National Government agreed to the investment of $5 million to retain key team members until the format of the next regatta was finalised, and sponsorships and other funding could be locked in.

"The expectation was that the investment would go some way towards protecting the intellectual property, experience and skills that the team has generated over the years," Mr Bridges says.

"We didn't make the $5 million conditional on the next America's Cup Regatta being held in New Zealand because Team New Zealand needed flexibility, but our clear expectation was that it would be held here".

TNZ announced the protocol for the 2021 regatta in September with the intention for Auckland to host the 36th edition of competition for the Auld Mug.

Luna Rossa of Italy, which is the challenger of record, a club that negotiates the racing protocol for the competition with the defender, was announced as backup host, something that Oracle Team USA didn't do for the 2017 America's Cup in Bermuda.

"Auckland is where we want to hold it but we've got nothing in place yet," TNZ CEO Grant Dalton said at the protocol announcement in September.

"It's only responsible for the challengers that they know there's a back-up if natural disaster, or whatever, happened and we couldn't hold it here.

"If for whatever reason it couldn't come to Auckland, they need to know where it's going."

A deadline of August 2018 has been established for TNZ to confirm a venue and race course for the next event.