'Cunning negotiator': Team NZ's Grant Dalton won't stop at $5 million, Simon Bridges warns

National MP Simon Bridges is warning the Government Team New Zealand will want more than $5 million to host the next America's Cup in Auckland.

Stuart Nash - the minister responsible for the tournament - said about $5 million has been set aside as initial funding to keep the winning team intact, lest members be snapped up by rival syndicates. 

"It would be subject to a number of conditions, including an expectation the Cup will be defended in New Zealand," Nash said. 

"They'll be holding out for more than $5 million," Bridges told The AM Show on Friday, appearing with Labour MP David Parker. 

"I mean look, firstly it's fantastic we won - we want to keep it here. All I would say is Sir Grant Dalton, he's a great guy, he's a great New Zealander - he's also a cunning negotiator. 

"I'm not suggesting they aren't thinking about their options, but what a great way to leverage up the money. All I would say to whether it's Nash or David or whoever's doing the negotiations from our side, come out with your fingers and toes. They'll drive a hard bargain."

Parker agreed that Dalton - who isn't yet a 'Sir' - would indeed drive a hard bargain. More than $250 million from the Government and Auckland Council was spent on this year's regatta. Most of it went on infrastructure, with the expectation visitors would pump hundreds of millions more into the local economy - which didn't happen thanks to COVID-19. 

But because only a fraction of it - about $40 million - was spent on the event itself, Parker says hosting it again in a few year's time won't cost as much. And if Team New Zealand opt to host their defence elsewhere in the world, any money the Government hands over will need to be paid back, he said. 

Grant Dalton.
Grant Dalton. Photo credit: Photosport

AM Show host Duncan Garner suggested the Government get on with building the long-awaited Skypath walking and cycling addition to the Auckland Harbour Bridge, allowing spectators an unrivalled vantage point from which to watch the action. 

Bridges was unimpressed.

"You're dreaming, mate... these guys can't build houses in four years, let alone a Skypath. Come on." 

Parker said he's "never even given any thought to that".

The future of the Skypath hangs in the balance after the NZ Transport Agency earlier this year said the bridge couldn't be strengthened any further for safety reasons. Transport Minister Michael Wood said in February a decision would be made in the next few months.