America's Cup: Govt won't rule out funding

By Patrice Dougan

Picture / Brett Phibbs
Picture / Brett Phibbs

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has not ruled out putting extra Government funding into a new America's Cup challenge if other sponsors "step up".

A decision on whether New Zealand would make another bid for the historic yachting challenge needed to be made in the "next month or so", and by then funding would need to be in place, Mr Joyce said this morning.

He was "happy to go and talk to my colleagues" about funding, he told TV ONE's Q and A programme, but money would have to come from private sponsors as well.

If Team NZ decide they want to go ahead with a challenge "then they need to get in touch with all their sponsors, including us [the Government], so not just us, and say, 'actually we need a bit more money before we can find out where the venue finally is', and then the sponsors, all of them, and not just the taxpayer, have to say, 'right this what we're prepared to do"', Mr Joyce said.

Oracle Team USA released the rules and structure of the America's Cup on Wednesday, but did not reveal where the event would be held.

At the time, Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton said the team "can't raise real money" without knowing the venue.

But any decision on further Government funding would depend "on the attitude of the other players", Mr Joyce said.

"There's a big yachting community in New Zealand, who are keen to see a challenge, I think it would be a good idea for some of them to step up at this point.

"And of course there's a bunch of other sponsors who, as I understand it, indicated to Team New Zealand that they're very keen to keep participating. So they should probably step up a bit now as well."

Mr Joyce met with Team NZ last week before the protocol for the next America's Cup was released, but would not say how much money the team need.

"They didn't ask for a specific amount, but we know that the $5 million that they got from us in November/December last year, that's about three to seven months, so they'd need something similar from their sponsors over the next period."

Mr Joyce said he believed the America's Cup was "still a great thing for New Zealand in terms of marketing opportunities".

"I think there's some strong profile opportunities in that for New Zealand, and therefore it makes sense for us to be involved in some way.

"But actually, look, it's never going to happen without all the other sponsors, there's no way that this is a Government funded challenge."

The competition has a US$2 million entry fee, due by August 8.

- NZ Herald

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