Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says he is determined not to create a "white elephant" when the city builds a new America's Cup village for Team New Zealand's defence.

Team New Zealand said that the defence would be held in Auckland in March 2021, though it had not yet formally signed a hosting agreement.

Goff did not doubt that Auckland could formally secure the hosting rights by October 2018, which was the deadline set by Team NZ to give other syndicates some certainty.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff greets Team New Zealand's Peter Burling before the America's Cup Parade in Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff greets Team New Zealand's Peter Burling before the America's Cup Parade in Auckland. Photo / Greg Bowker

He has asked officials to begin looking at all possible sites which could fit a 30,000sq m base. He would not state a preferred site, saying he wanted full business cases to be developed first.

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It was important that the base left a legacy for Auckland and did not become a white elephant, Goff said. That meant creating long-lasting public amenities, possibly by building a new space for cruise ships to berth. Larger cruise ships are currently unable to dock at Queens Wharf and must ferry passengers to the waterfront.

National has already told Auckland Council it will pay for half of the costs of a new Cup Village, and government and council are looking for the private sector to partner on some of the projects.

Goff said council funding would be limited to infrastructure.

"We're not putting money into the cup race, or into Team NZ or the other syndicates. What we're doing is providing the land space that the village needs and a pad to build the bases on."

The council's priority was on creating the base for the cup but it was also interested in "quick wins" which could improve the city's transport infrastructure.

The cup defence is in the same year as Apec, which will be the largest event the Government has ever held in New Zealand.

Goff said it was probably not possible to get light rail built between the airport and the CBD by 2021, but parts of the route could be upgraded.

"You don't want to be constructing things at the time that the America's Cup or defence or Apec is going on."

Auckland Council will also need the next government to pass laws which will allow it to fast-track any construction.

Team NZ boss Grant Dalton said that the 2021 cup would be held in Auckland, though he noted that the infrastructure did not yet exist and construction needed to begin in mid-2018 to be ready in time for the event.

If the event was not held in Auckland, Italy was the back-up option, he said.

"The only reason we went to the America's Cup was to bring it back here. We're really clear about that, this is where we want to hold it but we've got nothing in place yet.

"I think it's only responsible for the challengers if there is a natural disaster or whatever happens that we couldn't hold it here.

"Rather than finding out next year that it's got to be shopped out all over the place to try and find a venue, we say 'if for whatever reason it can't be in Auckland, which is the intention, absolutely the intention, it will go to Italy.'"

Goff said he did not perceive that as a threat from Team NZ that the event could be taken elsewhere.

"How I interpreted it is that Emirates Team NZ want to hold the cup in Auckland, it is their intention to do that. I think that's really exciting for Aucklanders and New Zealanders and nobody wants to see Team NZ defend their cup in Italy."