Mayor Phil Goff is calling on Emirates Team New Zealand to defend the Auld Mug in Auckland again for the 37th America's Cup, with hopes the next regatta might allow the City of Sails to play host to international visitors.
Team New Zealand successfully retained the America's Cup on Wednesday, beating Italian Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 7-3.
With the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron maintaining its title as the Defending Club, Goff is hopeful Team New Zealand will once again opt for an at-home advantage, and choose to contest the next regatta on the waters of Auckland's Hauraki Gulf.
"Aucklanders and New Zealanders would love the next America's Cup defence to be here. We've made a big investment - the Council invested in the infrastructure, and when I say Council, I mean Aucklanders," Goff told The Breeze on Thursday morning.
Auckland Council contributed around $113 million in funding to host the 36th America's Cup, transforming the city's waterfront and providing the brand new infrastructure required to support the event, including the renewal of Wynyard Quarter. Goff says it was money well spent - but he wants to put it to good use.
"We invested in the infrastructure, which we did under-budget - and that's there, forever," he said.
"The America's Cup Village right in the heart of the city [at the Viaduct Basin], the courses - [the team's] families are here - so I hope that is the call. But in the end, the decision will be made by Team New Zealand."
There is also hope the next America's Cup race will see the return of international visitors. With much of the world still battling COVID-19, Goff says there will be a significant influx of tourists desperate to escape to New Zealand's "paradise", many of whom have watched the America's Cup unfold under New Zealand's summer sun in conditions close to pre-pandemic normality.
"I've got a mate living in London who has been locked down for a year. He's watching his television, seeing the sunshine, the crowds, the magnificent harbour, and says 'God I'd love to come back [to] New Zealand again'," Goff told Breakfast on Thursday.
The Mayor says Auckland Council is more than prepared to back the event for a second consecutive time - but urged Team New Zealand to "reciprocate" the support Aucklanders have shown.
"You can't put money on the feeling that was around not only around the Waterfront, but around Auckland yesterday," Goff reiterated to Breakfast. "We want to use it again in three years time. We've made the big investment, we've played our part of the deal… and we'd love to have them here again. We're ready to welcome them back, and I hope that's the decision they make.
"That's my call to Team New Zealand. We've gotten behind you, we've backed you, we've given you the support, we've provided you with the infrastructure - please reciprocate."
The Government has already reaffirmed its commitment to Team New Zealand as it prepares for the next event, with the minister responsible for America's Cup support, Stuart Nash, confirming Cabinet has agreed in principle to use the under-spend from the $136.5 million set aside in Budget 2018 to support the successful team while it plans its defence.
"It would be subject to a number of conditions, including an expectation the Cup will be defended in New Zealand," Nash said.
"The defence of the Cup offers a global opportunity to promote New Zealand as an innovative and successful nation, with spin-offs in areas like tourism and export deals."
The minister said although no request for support had yet been made, he anticipated it would be a similar to the $5 million that was paid after America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.
"Following a hard year, Team New Zealand provided such optimism and excitement," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Wednesday.
"I know with all the international limitations that COVID created this wasn't the competition they expected, but they've made us so proud."
And a challenge for the 37th America's Cup has already been issued. Speaking to Newstalk ZB on Wednesday afternoon, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron general manager Hayden Porter confirmed the club has received a new challenge for the next regatta.
"We have received a challenge for the 37th America's Cup. There's a lot of details to come; discussions will evolve over the next few days, weeks and months and things will happen from there... all details will be revealed in the next wee while," Porter said.