Auckland Council is looking at saving costs in the construction of the 2021 America's Cup bases in Viaduct Marina because fewer challengers are coming.

Partners in the project are considering how they may use "repurposed" base space. Housing of emergency services for the event is a possibility.

Auckland Council and the Government put in $250 million to create seven team bases. But only five are needed after challengers Dutch Sail and Malta Altus pulled out due to financial strain over the difficulty in building the AC75 monohull-style yachts selected for the event.

America's Cup bases under construction in the Viaduct Marina. Video / Jason Oxenham

The chair of the 36th America's Cup advisory, Dean Kimpton told the Weekend Herald the original designs and budgets for the Viaduct Marina "transformation" were an overestimation of the current scale of the event.

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"With the long lead time required for design and construction, decisions needed to be made based on the best information we had at the time," Kimpton said.

"When the scope was agreed with the Wynyard Edge Alliance the decision was made to proceed on the basis of six potential challengers.

Kimpton said all members of the Wynyard Edge Alliance, the construction conglomerate responsible for building the bases in Viaduct Marina, have been "committed to find cost savings where practicable" across the design and construction phase.

"With five teams - four challengers as well as the defender - we are looking at what cost saving options there are in light of the reduced base requirements, our existing contractual commitments, how the existing challenger bases could be re-purposed during the event and how the space will be used between defences.

"This process is what ratepayers and taxpayers should expect to ensure their money is being spent wisely. Decisions on this are yet to be made."

Auckland Council said possible cost saving amounts could be released in the coming weeks.

Italian team Luna Rossa Prada America's Cup base under construction in the Viaduct Marina. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham
Italian team Luna Rossa Prada America's Cup base under construction in the Viaduct Marina. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham
Wynyard Edge Alliance project director Iain Simmons. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham
Wynyard Edge Alliance project director Iain Simmons. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham

In an earlier interview with the Herald, Emirates Team NZ boss Grant Dalton said if he was to "pinpoint one thing I'm most happy about" it would be the look and speed of the Viaduct construction.

"The way (Wynyard Edge) Alliance has worked to hold deadlines, in fact even exceed deadlines, is remarkable," Dalton said.

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"You can't fault it actually. People will try, but I certainly haven't been able to and I watch it every day. Unbelievable."

There is precedent for America's Cup events being delivered under-budget - unlikely as it seems in the billionaire-backed world of high-performance competitive sailing.

A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers of the 2017 Bermuda event found it came in $64.1 million (USD) - $12.9 million under the original budget of $77m.

Such figures put pressure on the Auckland event already scrutinised for its tenuous cost/benefit ratio - determined in a commissioned report for the Ministry of Business in 2017 with a range from 0.997 to 1.14.

Construction on the entire America's Cup base area in Auckland's Viaduct Marina is set for a late-2020 completion date. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham
Construction on the entire America's Cup base area in Auckland's Viaduct Marina is set for a late-2020 completion date. 2 August 2019. New Zealand Herald photograph by Jason Oxenham

The NZ Initiative was responsible for correcting errors in the overly optimistic initial cost/benefit ratio of the 2017 Market Economics report, and their chief economist Eric Crampton said the financial outlook for the event has not improved in the last two years.

"Because a lot of investments have to be planned early, before the number of teams is entirely finalised, government and council can wind up taking on a lot of risk in exchange for effectively no return on investment. It is hard to downsize those fixed investments in response to a smaller than expected event," Crampton told the Herald this week.

"Central and local government committed to covering costs for an America's Cup event despite an MBIE assessment that expected benefits were only barely on par with costs."

The two "repurposed" unused bases, will be within a row of structures along the east side of Wynyard Wharf, along with three bases being used by the two US challengers, American Magic and Stars + Stripes, and UK team Ineos.

A separate base has been constructed for the Italian Prada team on a $37 million extension of Hobson Wharf - despite now able to move into one of the vacant bases on Wynyard Wharf.

Team NZ's base did not have to be built, as it is a renovation of the Viaduct Events Centre. However, the fit out of the team's base will still cost millions of dollars.

The other four challengers fit-out their own team bases at their own cost.

Construction for Team NZ's base was completed in June.