Government to fund Team New Zealand as Auckland gets series

By Dana Johannsen, Claire Trevett

Official announcement expected soon after America’s Cup organisers pick Auckland for qualifiers
Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton makes his way out with the team. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Emirates Team New Zealand Grant Dalton makes his way out with the team. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Team New Zealand appears set to receive funding from the Government again, well-placed sources have told the Herald.

The news comes as unconfirmed reports point to Auckland as the venue for the next America's Cup qualifying series.

Should the Government fund Team NZ? Have your say

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce refused to confirm the funding yesterday, but repeated his claim that if New Zealand was confirmed as a venue for the qualifiers "that would make us much more interested in sponsoring the team".

America's Cup organisers reportedly made that decision this week, telling teams but waiting until next month to make an official announcement.

However, the amount the Government will contribute to Team NZ's America's Cup bid will be "significantly less" than the $36 million Team NZ wanted, sources say.

Mr Joyce said he could not reveal the Government's hand until the decision was formally announced. However, he hinted New Zealand was successful, pointing to media reports in Australia. The Daily Telegraph reported that America's Cup organisers had opted for Auckland over Sydney for the rights to host the challenger series. That would mean the five challengers and defenders Oracle Team USA are based in Auckland for up to three months in the leadup to the 35th America's Cup in 2017.

An America's Cup spokesman confirmed to the Herald that the venues had been chosen with the "required information published to the teams".

Mr Joyce said as soon as the America's Cup authority announced the venues the Government would reveal its hand.

He said no final decision had been made on funding, but well-placed sources told the Herald funding would be provided, although it would be less than Team NZ had hoped for.

The Government put $36 million toward the last bid for the Cup in 2013 and Team NZ has said it had asked for a similar amount for this challenge.

Asked if the Government provided any guarantee of funding to help support Team NZ's bid to host the qualifying series, Mr Joyce said the Government provided a list of factors that would help its chances of getting funding including a domestic series.

"I have given them an indication of the sort of things that would be important for us to have sponsorship," he said.

Mr Joyce and Prime Minister John Key both earlier said securing the qualifying series would improve the chances of government funding for Team NZ because of the economic spin-offs of hosting such an event.

The Government gave $5 million to keep Team NZ ticking after its defeat to Oracle in 2013 but has refused to commit to further funding.

Ministers felt there was less economic benefit in the sponsorship with the 2017 finals in Bermuda.

Stakes high for America's Cup bid

What does Team NZ want?
A similar amount to the $36 million it received for the last challenge.

What was the Government's position?
It is more likely to offer funding if the qualifying series is held in Auckland.

When will it be announced?
The venue for the qualifiers has been chosen and teams told, but will not be formally confirmed until next month.

Who won?
Australian media reported that Sydney lost to Auckland - that report has not been denied.

What is the qualifying series?
The five challengers and defender race off in the four months leading up to the America's Cup. It determines seedings for the America's Cup challenger play-offs.

What benefits does the Government see in it?
Economic benefits of hosting the six syndicates for four months and international coverage.

- NZ Herald

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