A standoff between Team New Zealand, the Government and Auckland Council has intensified over the location and design of the America's Cup base.
The Herald understands the sailing syndicate is deeply upset at a surprise announcement yesterday over an "agreed" plan between the Government and council for a world class America's Cup village on Auckland's waterfront for the 2021 regatta.
In a strongly worded statement, Team New Zealand chief executive Grant Dalton expressed "surprise" at the joint release about the new plan.
A political source said Team New Zealand was unhappy they had not got their preferred choice around Wynyard Basin.
"They want their way and that involves building out into the harbour a further 40m and we don't want to do that," the political source said.
No one from Team New Zealand was willing to be interviewed on the subject last night but the stalemate appears to leave the syndicate in a difficult position.
It can either negotiate with the parties over the base's final design, which mayor Phil Goff said was still an option, or it can take the Cup defence to Italy, as Dalton openly discussed last year.
The latter option would carry significant consequences, undermining the Kiwi public's goodwill in the team and potentially compromising ongoing Government funding.
Dalton said he was surprised by yesterday's developments.
He said Team New Zealand believed it was still working with the Government and council towards a final agreement and had presented a plan on Tuesday costing less than the politicians' "hybrid" proposal for at least seven team bases in the Wynyard area.
"Team New Zealand has always existed with the absolute priority of effectively saving money where possible, and the option we presented on Tuesday has the ability to save tens of millions of dollars," said Dalton, who gave no costings.
This is at odds with Economic Development Minister David Parker, who said the hybrid option was $15 million to $20m less than the basin option favoured by Team New Zealand and does not cause delays.
He said the costs had risen across all options and the hybrid option would now cost $185 million.
Parker said there was flexibility to change the layout of four bases on Wynyard Pt if Team New Zealand had further concerns, but believed the changes met their concerns.
The Herald was unable to get any further comment from Team New Zealand about its next move. Board member Tina Symmans, said there would be no further comment.
The hybrid plan incorporates elements of the Wynyard Basin option, agreed by the council in December and publicly notified in January, and the Wynyard Pt variant explored by the Government.
The deal clears the way for more land-based locations for America's Cup bases and reduced the proposed extension to Halsey Wharf from 75m to 35m.
Dutch company Stolthaven Terminals has agreed to leave its southern tank farm site on Wynyard Pt early, which allows more room for a proposed America's Cup base.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Parker and Goff have all expressed a wish to minimise intrusion into the Waitemata Harbour.
The plan presented by Team New Zealand included the 75m Halsey extension, which was in the process for resource consent with a reconfiguration of bases and the ability to house up to seven teams on the Halsey and Hobson Wharfs, all well within the confines of the existing neighbouring wharfs.
"While we are 100 per cent behind the removal of the tanks, timeframe is a hugely significant consideration in the planning for this America's Cup," Dalton said.
"We feel our option presented to Government and council yesterday [on Tuesday] eliminates the potential for unforeseen blowouts in time and money when dealing with contaminated land, which are factors none of the interested parties can afford in delivering the event on time and to budget.
"At this point, we want to clearly reiterate our continued commitment to hosting the event in Auckland in 2021 and hope we can continue to work to reach a shared agreement with Government and council," Dalton said.
Parker said: "Agreement has not yet been reached with Team New Zealand on the hosting agreement and the location."
Meanwhile Urban Auckland, a group of architects and urban designers, and lobby Group Stop Stealing Our Harbour, have come out in support of the agreed plan between the Government and council.
Urban Auckland spokeswoman Julie Stout said the group does not think any extension to harbour wharfs is justified, but the plan minimised this by putting most bases on existing land at Wynyard Point, allowing important views of the harbour to remain.
"Without strenuous objection from Urban Auckland and Stop Stealing Our Harbour and the intervention of Minister Parker, Auckland could have had to pay for and put up with a 220m concrete wharf covered in giant useless sheds when the Cup was over," Stout said.
She said using the America's Cup to start getting rid of the tanks on Wynyard Point is the best legacy for Auckland.
Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater applauded the commonsense approach and innovative thinking which has resulted in less cost and intrusion into the harbour without reducing the effectiveness of the Cup Village concept.
"We look forward to the progress of the proposal's design and any further refinements
which can continue to limit harbour intrusion and reduce costs," Goldwater said.
He said the much planned and long-awaited Headland Park could now be in sight as a result of the Government's innovative America's Cup proposals.
Councillor Chris Darby, who chairs the planning committee, praised Parker on social media for putting the brakes on a massive harbour intrusion to accommodate the America's Cup.
Darby said if fewer syndicates sign up for the America's Cup defence than the seven planned on the waterfront, then the 75m extension to Hobson Wharf, which creates the greatest incursion into the harbour and greatest visual impact, should be dropped.
The extension to Hobson Wharf, costed at $30m, includes plans for a permanent home for Team New Zealand.
Planner Joel Cayford said in his blog, Reflections of Auckland Planning, that yesterday was a good day for Auckland's waterfront and for those advocating for protection of views and the opportunity to release and develop some of the public open space potential on Wynyard Pt.
Cayford said he understood there was a lot of concern behind the scenes with Team New Zealand's complex and technically difficult yacht designs for the regatta, which is proving expensive and consequently only three syndicates have put their hats in the ring.
"This factor will be very evident to TNZ which will be under the pump to get other costs of entry minimised - such as syndicate bases. The more public money that is pumped into syndicate base construction and the provision of sponsor super-yacht berthage, the less it will cost syndicates to participate.
"If, due to circumstances completely outside Government and Council control, there are only three or four syndicates involved in the AC36 event, then these can all be hosted on the Wynyard Pt land that is now available because of the deal with Stolthaven," Cayford said.