The public expect Team New Zealand to repay long-term support by defending the America's Cup here – and the Government must not let Auckland Council off the hook on any hosting fee, National says.

National's economic development spokesman Simon Bridges said the Government should be very careful about paying hosting fees to Team NZ.

"The team has had a lot of financial and other support from New Zealanders over many years and the public will believe there should be some recognition of that by the team with the decision to defend the cup here," Bridges said.

"The Government and Auckland Council are already stumping up what looks like very large sums for the America's Cup bases - that should be the Government's main contribution.

Advertisement

"If any hosting fee was to be paid on top of that it should be shared between Auckland Council and the Government, as should the infrastructure costs. The Government can't look at this as another way to let Phil Goff off the hook with his responsibilities."

Negotiations are ongoing between TNZ and the Government, including on a multi-million dollar hosting fee that the team wants. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has today said the council will not contribute to the hosting fee.

The Herald on Sunday today revealed Team New Zealand top brass is looking at a raft of other possible destinations, including Sochi, in Russia, and Abu Dhabi. And it's understood the syndicate could receive up to US$80m ($116m) from a potential hosting deal in Abu Dhabi.

A Team NZ spokesman responded to the Herald on Sunday story with a statement that said it was not actively scouting other locations.

"But there has been overseas interest that have presented themselves but we reconfirm our desire to host the America's Cup in New Zealand and we are making good progress with both council and government."

Government Minister David Parker yesterday confirmed the demand for a hosting fee, admitting Auckland was "not in the bag" - and he said he was aware of interest from other potential hosts.

Although Parker wouldn't be drawn on the exact amount, he confirmed Team NZ would be asking for a "significant" fee, on top of their infrastructure expenses and that this would effectively be funded by taxpayers. The hosting fee has been standard in the America's Cup since 2007 when Alinghi took the cup to Valencia.

Celebrations following Team New Zealand's successful defence of the America's Cup in 2000. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Celebrations following Team New Zealand's successful defence of the America's Cup in 2000. Photo / Brett Phibbs

"On one level, extra money the Government spends on this sort of thing is less money that can be spent on housing for people who need homes. Having said that, the economic case for this is quite strong because there are economic spinoffs and improved tourism," Parker told Newstalk ZB.

Parker, Minister of Economic Development and Environment, with responsibility for the America's Cup, has the job of striking a deal that meets Team NZ's needs and is acceptable to the Government and Auckland Council.

"It's a three-way negotiation between the council, central government who have been asked to pay for these things, and Team New Zealand who want to be paid. That negotiation hasn't been completed yet," Parker said.

"While there is obviously a bottom line beyond where we would think we would be unreasonably pushed — and we wouldn't be pushed beyond that — we also recognise there are benefits and that's why I think all three parties are trying to find a solution.

"I think there's a point beyond where they [Team NZ] wouldn't be pushed either. And they've got to have some things which make this viable for them and that's the nature of the negotiation."

Bridges said Parker needed to be careful about agreeing to pay hosting fees.
"David Parker needs to look creatively at how he can keep the cup here and develop the infrastructure in a timely way."

In an interview on Newstalk ZB today, Goff ruled out any chance of the Auckland Council stumping up for a hosting fee. He said Auckland would already fork out hundreds of millions of dollars for aspects of the event that will benefit the city.

"That's a pretty fair contribution to make. It's not a case of just being tight. It's that I just don't have the money to spend and the fundamental responsibility I have as mayor of Auckland is not to spend money I don't have."

He said the Government would financially benefit more than the council would from the cup because it would clip the ticket on GST, income tax and company tax.

Goff also hoped the private sector would contribute to the cost of hosting the cup in Auckland too, because businesses would benefit significantly from it.

Team NZ suffered a blow on Thursday when their preferred cup base — a 220m extension at Halsey St Wharf — was officially taken off the table, at an all-day meeting with the council.

The option offered the chance for a more village-like feel for competing crews and the public alike, but would have cost about $190 million and taken up to 18 months to complete.

Instead, a dispersed base at Wynyard Pt and a clustered base at Wynyard Basin were voted as the sole options to be considered by the Government and Team NZ.

Parker said there had been significant progress during negotiations over the past two weeks. "If any one of the parties become unreasonable then we could lose it," Parker said.

Team NZ reclaimed the Auld Mug in June by beating defender Oracle Team USA 7-1 in the Cup match in Bermuda. The National Government put $5m into that campaign. National criticised the then-Labour Government for agreeing in 2007 to put $38m into Team NZ.