Far North America's Cup fans keen to watch high-speed yachting action live on a big screen in March will be spoiled for choice, with eight venues named as official FanZones.
Earlier this year the Far North District Council was asked by official America's Cup organiser America's Cup Events to host FanZones. Recognising the potential for community involvement, the council extended the offer to community groups, which were encouraged to nominate their own venues and to put their own stamp on the event.
Mayor John Carter said America's Cup Events was initially surprised by that approach, but quickly saw that directly involving communities could galvanise participation.
"We encouraged communities to 'own their zone,' and to use the races as a fundraising opportunity for their own projects," Carter said.
"I think the America's Cup organisers and our communities recognised that this approach would benefit each of them."
To be accredited as an official FanZone, a venue had to have room for at least 100 people, a fast and reliable internet connection, and be able to show the America's Cup races on a big screen. They were warned that FanZones may be visited by teams and sponsors during promotions, and news media may also be keen to show audiences supporting the America's Cup at local venues.
FanZones would be set up by the Mangonui Cruising Club, Waipapa Business Association (co-hosted by the Waipapa Lions Club), Kerikeri's Turner Centre, Business Paihia, the Ōpua Cruising Club, the Duke Tavern (Russell), Explore Group (Otehei Bay, Urupukapuka Island), and the Towai/Maromaku Residents' and Ratepayers' Association.
Kerry Gelmi, one of the organisers of the Towai bid, admitted that its FanZone would be the odd one out.
"While we have a proud sporting history, we are completely landlocked, and we don't have a strong connection to sailing or the America's Cup. But that is our point of difference and we aim to make the most of it to create a unique cup experience," she said.
The Towai Hall FanZone would raise money for the settlement's church, hall and historic cemetery.
"Towai was once a busy community, with flax mills and the railway running through. The first burials in the cemetery were in 1899. The community is keen to preserve this early history," she added.
Fates for the Towai FanZone were still being finalised, but the venue would definitely operate on race days that coincided with the Towai Makers' Market, due to be launched at the Towai Hall on November 8, operating from 2pm to 6pm on the second Sunday of every month.
"Our aim is for the market to become a significant local attraction that promotes the work of local artisans. Combining market day with America's Cup races will be part of our unique FanZone experience," Gelmi said.
The 36th America's Cup will be contested in Auckland over March 6-21, with racing scheduled every two days. The defending team, Emirates Team New Zealand, will race against the winner of the Prada Cup in a best of 13 series.