America's Cup Minister Stuart Nash says it would be "hugely disappointing" if the next Cup competition moves offshore.
Nash has made a careful statement to the Herald which also notes that the choice of where to stage the next Cup is a decision for Team New Zealand and the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron, the official winner of the 36th America's Cup this week.
Royal NZ Yacht Squadron commodore Aaron Young confirmed today that Ineos Team UK will be the "challenger of record" for the 37th Cup.
He said the squadron's preference was for the next defence to be in New Zealand despite reports that Team New Zealand is considering a defence against Ineos Team UK off the Isle of Wight funded by Ineos owner Sir James Ratcliffe.
"As we all know the option sits with New Zealand to see if we can put something together to enable us to race the 37th Am Cup in Auckland but there's a lot to work through and there's a lot for and against," Young said.
Nash declined to be interviewed today given the Crown's obligation to conduct negotiations in good faith with the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and its partners.
But he said in a statement: "We would love to see it stay here, which is why we invested $136.5 million in this regatta to build long-term infrastructure for the defence. It has built a legacy asset for future races, be they America's Cup events or other regattas, or round the world races.
"In addition, Auckland Council invested $113m but also carried additional operational costs of $20m.
"The Government has offered transition funding to help keep the team together, but any additional support would be contingent on the racing being held here so New Zealanders and the NZ economy can benefit from it.
"It would be hugely disappointing if the Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and Team NZ choose to take the Cup offshore, but that would be a decision for them."
On Wednesday, immediately after Team NZ won the Cup, Nash said some of the $136.5m Government funding allocated to this year's event was still unspent, and Cabinet had "agreed in principle to use that under-spend, should it be required, to keep the successful team together while it plans and regroups for AC37".
"The final details are still subject to negotiations, however it is likely to be a similar sum to that paid after AC35 in Bermuda in 2017, when $5m went towards the team to help it prepare for AC36 this year," he said.
But he said further investment would be "subject to a number of conditions, including an expectation the Cup will be defended in New Zealand".
"We want to see it all over again in 2023," he said.
"The defence of the Cup offers a global opportunity to promote New Zealand as an innovative and successful nation, with spin-offs in areas like tourism and export deals."
However sources told the Herald that $5m would be only "a drop in the bucket" of the costs likely to be needed to retain the Team NZ crew, boat builders and designers and to ensure the next Cup was sailed in New Zealand.
That cost was put at close to the $50m mark.
The Herald revealed last month that Team New Zealand commissioned a major London-based sports consultancy to run a worldwide venue selection process aimed at holding the "most successful America's Cup event ever seen" in 2023 or 2024.
A pitch document sent to potential host cities said Team New Zealand hoped to double the number of competing boats and dramatically increase television audiences and commercial revenues.
The successful bidder would be required to pay Team New Zealand a "hosting rights fee" that reflected the "commercial potential and economic impact of the America's Cup to a host venue".