Taxpayers Union, Chamber of Commerce CEO butt heads over massive financial loss of America's Cup

The Taxpayers Union is urging the Chamber of Commerce to justify the massive financial cost of the America's Cup, after its CEO staunchly defended the spend.  

Taxpayers Union chief executive Jordan Williams appeared on The AM Show on Wednesday, alongside Michael Barnett - the Chamber of Commerce CEO.

The pair were discussing the America's Cup and whether or not the money spent was worth it.

Williams was firmly against the spend, while Barnett argued the investment offset the massive financial loss.

"Auckland has invested to become a brand for entertainment and events and will attract visitors to give revenue for businesses," said Barnett.

"Let's stop calling it an investment because that is simply not true," Williams told The AM Show on Wednesday.

He says even though the event may have put international eyes on Auckland, the possible benefits "nowhere near" make up the shortfall.

The Cup got a total global audience of 941 million people and a dedicated audience of 68.2 million viewers across the world, RNZ reports. They watched 52 hours of live broadcast in 236 territories.

But despite the massive numbers, it was a huge financial loss.

A suite of reports released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Auckland Council on Tuesday revealed costs of $744.2 million against benefits of $588.1 million. This is a net cost of 156.1 million. In other words, for every dollar spent, New Zealand only made 79 cents. 

Williams says the loss is inexplicable and urged Barnett to try and justify it to those outside Auckland, who had not experienced the Cup. 

"[Barnett] needs to look down the camera at the householder, the single mum in Dannevirke right now, because per household we spent $400. Can you say it's worthwhile for her?"

Barnett said yes - because of the opportunity, it could have presented.

"I'm going to say absolutely, yes it was because there was the opportunity that you could have had thousands of small businesses that stayed alive, thousands of people that kept their jobs, that were able to feed their families."

"This was a long game - it's not a one-day event."