Cup defenders may face uphill battle to get Halsey Wharf option across line.

Auckland's mayor is gearing up for what could be an intense meeting with Team New Zealand about which part of the city's waterfront should be used as a base for the America's Cup.

The parties' visions for the event - and the future of Auckland's waterfront - differ greatly, with Phil Goff favouring the cheaper $137 million option of dispersing bases across three existing wharves around Wynyard Quarter.

Team NZ wants to centralise the base on Halsey Wharf through a 220m extension covering 3ha of the Waitemata Harbour, which would cost up to $190m.

Goff, deputy mayor Bill Cashmore, councillors Chris Darby, Mike Lee and Ross Clow and council officials, spent two hours touring their preferred sites on Wynyard, Halsey and Hobson Wharves yesterday.

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The mayor appeared confident with his plan and, with the Government apparently thinking along similar lines, Team NZ may face an uphill battle to get its Halsey Wharf extension endorsed.

"I guess the reason that's my preference is first it's less intrusive than the full extension of the Halsey St Wharf, which is another option, but it's also $41m cheaper and would be eight months quicker to construct," he said.

Goff wouldn't rule out the Halsey extension "because that is part of the discussion with Team NZ and I know that is their preferred site".

"You don't go into a negotiation ruling out the other person's option but we'll talk about it," he said.

"We'll talk about how the public of Auckland may feel about it, about what burden it may place on the ratepayer -- all of those things are obviously considerations.

"But I hope that all sides will go into these negotiations with a degree of flexibility and an open mind with a shared purpose of having the America's Cup defence here in Auckland but doing it in a way that is most reflective of the cost that it places on the ratepayer and also for the environment."

But, as Thursday's Auckland Council vote nears, there is concern about what will happen if the vote goes against Team NZ's preferred option.

Team NZ have so far kept largely quiet on their backup option of running the regatta in Italy should Auckland not be able to sort facilities - not wanting to be seen to be holding a gun to the head of either local or central government.

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However, sources close to the team have told the Herald on Sunday that Team NZ are becoming alarmed at the prospect of a bad decision being made.

Sources close to Team NZ say: "The Halsey extension is the legacy option. The dispersed options would be there for the Cup and would then disappear. Halsey wharf would be there for visitors, for superyachts, for triathlon events and all sorts of water-based events."

Team NZ are also understood to feel strongly that only the Halsey wharf option allows the number of berths required, not only for challengers but many of the large number of superyachts that will visit for the next Cup.

Around 150 superyachts are expected and, with many spending millions on refits and upgrades while they are here, the industry has estimated a spend of over $400m from superyachts alone.

Goff and his team are expected to meet Economic Development Minister David Parker today before the potentially contentious meeting with Team NZ, expected tomorrow.

"I know the Prime Minister's view is a little like mine -- and the Minister for the Environment's -- in that we want to minimise the impact of further intrusions into the harbour. But equally, all three of us are committed to hosting the America's Cup here in Auckland," said Goff.