The possibility of Team NZ taking the 2021 America's Cup offshore remains open as the resource consent process kicks off tomorrow, while the Government continues to investigate a different option for the cup's base.
Economic Development Minister David Parker says that if the alternative Wynyard Point option is practical, then it should be considered - even though Auckland Council has deemed it costly, riskier in terms of timeframes, and has questioned whether there is sufficient space or even if consents would be granted.
"We are testing all those assertions," Parker told the Herald today.
Emirates Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton has said he would love to have the event in New Zealand, but has named Italy as a back-up venue.
"It's not guaranteed to be in New Zealand," Parker said.
"Team NZ, the council and the Government all have legitimate interests and they have to be balanced in a way that's feasible and affordable. It's impossible for any of the parties to form a final view, in my view, until we know the relative costs and practicalities of different options."
Landowner Panuku is lodging a resource consent application tomorrow for the council's favoured Wynyard Basin option - involving a cluster of bases located on a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf, a 75m extension to Hobson Wharf, and on the existing Wynyard Wharf.
This follows the council's vote last month to support the basin option over the point option. Team NZ also prefers the basin option, which carries a price tag of $124 million.
The cost estimate for the point option is $112m - but this includes a $100m cost related to moving the northern tank farm, which Parker says the Government is not proposing.
Parker said the point option will come down to HASNO (hazardous substances and new organisms) issues related to the southern tank farm.
"It may not work out but it's certainly worth looking at because if those issues can be resolved, it could well be a cheaper option by many millions of dollars.
"If it is found to be viable and preferable to the basin option, Auckland Council has agreed to pause its application."
He said the Government's work on the point option should be done before the end of the month, when the council will publicly notify the resource consent application.
The Government is still yet to decide how much money to give Team NZ for a hosting fee, and how much to contribute for setting up the base.
A spokesman for Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: "We are working with Government to get the best outcome for Auckland and New Zealand."
Parker said there was no deadline for that decision, though Dalton has said he wanted to confirm the venue by the end of August.
Dalton spoke to the Herald briefly as he boarded a plane to Dubai today, saying he could not comment.