Team New Zealand’s decision to snub Auckland and host the next America’s Cup in Barcelona has been called a “travesty” by those fighting to keep the event in NZ.
The Royal NZ Yacht Squadron announced the news early this morning that Barcelona had been chosen as the host venue for the 37th America’s Cup which will now be held in September and October of 2024.
Team NZ’s chief executive Grant Dalton said in a statement he was delighted to announce Barcelona as the host venue for the cup after a “long and competitive venue selection process” that had seen Barcelona beat out Ireland’s Cork, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Malaga in Spain.
“Barcelona really is one of the most recognised cities in the world, so to have the ability to host the most recognised sailing event in the world is hugely exciting,” he said in a statement.
“When thinking ahead to the 37th America’s Cup and the AC75’s racing within a few hundred metres of the Barcelona beach, waterfront, and race village fan engagement zones, it will be nothing less than spectacular.”
Possible court challenge
Team NZ’s decision marks the likely end of independent oil and gas baron Mark Dunphy’s campaign for the host city decision to be given to Auckland. He has been vocal in his willingness to spend up to $40 million of his personal fortune on an Auckland challenge.
A decision to head offshore would now most likely only be thwarted by a successful challenge in the NZ courts, which Dunphy previously said he would wait for others to mount.
Last June, Team NZ’s board rejected a $99m offer from the NZ government and Auckland Council for the cup race to be held on NZ waters.
Auckland mayor Phil Goff said while the news didn’t come as a surprise, he had encountered “strong views from many Aucklanders and New Zealanders” over the ETNZ’s decision to not defend the America’s Cup in NZ.
“This will be the first time that – having won the cup – New Zealand will not get the benefits of defending it here,” he said.
Goff said Aucklanders in particular would be disappointed by the decision.
“It’s a reflection of the fact that the America’s Cup is not simply an international sporting event but a business venture – and the latter consideration has prevailed,” he said.
Dunphy’s Kiwi Home Defence group said in a statement this morning the squadron was “giving away” the team’s home waters advantage by choosing to deny New Zealanders all of the opportunities which come with hosting the America’s Cup in NZ.
It said NZ taxpayers had “dug deep” to support Team NZ over the years and over half a billion dollars had been invested by government bodies into the team and the cup.
“It is a travesty that New Zealand is not receiving the dividends it is entitled to from this investment,” the statement said.
“What should have been an exciting platform to showcase New Zealand’s reopening to the world is now Spain’s opportunity.”
Team NZ has won the last two America's Cup regattas, last year beating Italian team Luna Rossa in a 7 – 3 victory.