A final agreement for the America's Cup bases in Auckland is in sight under a new plan which is tens of millions of dollars cheaper than earlier proposals.
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton said it looks like the plan could work, but there are still problems that need to be resolved.
Two groups pushing for a land-based solution have vowed to oppose the latest plan, saying it is unacceptable because it creates a concrete extension into the harbour the size of a rugby field.
We are not building concrete rugby fields on the waterfront for the All Blacks. Why would we do it for Team New Zealand
Economic Development Minister David Parker said he was pleased the Government, Auckland Council and Team New Zealand are closer to an agreement on the shape of a world-class venue to host the 36th America's Cup in Auckland.
"There have been plenty of wind shifts through the process of these discussions.
"There are still important details to work through and we are continuing to seek the lowest-cost option with the smallest intrusion into the harbour, as has been our stated objective from the start," he said.
The new option, known as "Point-Halsey", has an approximate cost of $140 million, between $15 million and $35 million cheaper than earlier options. It envisages a 9900sq m extension to Halsey Wharf, compared with other intrusions of 22,800sq m.
The Point-Halsey option involves moving a double base for Team New Zealand from a 75m extension on Hobson Wharf to Halsey Wharf. A second double base will be located on Halsey Wharf and additional bases on Wynyard Point as syndicates are confirmed.
Dalton said the Government presented it with the latest plan last week.
"On the face of it and to the layman's eye it looks like it could work.
"In the limited time we have had to look into the detail we see that there are some problems that need to be addressed."
Dalton said the need to negotiate the removal of extra tanks from Wynyard Point - the Government has already negotiated with Stolthaven to remove some tanks - along with remedial work - was complex and time consuming.
"We along, with Government and council, have concerns about the works timetable and availability of specialist construction resource in an already stretched environment. The Government is seeking a second expert opinion on the timetable issue and we support them in doing this.
"There is little point in agreeing to a plan that can't be delivered on time," he said.
Dalton was "a bit pissed off" at the decision to move a permanent base for Team New Zealand to Halsey Wharf, saying Parker had given a commitment for the base being on Hobson Wharf.
"He has been forced by Viaduct Harbour Holdings' threat to disrupt the resource consent process to back away from that commitment and move our base to the eastern end of Halsey wharf," said Dalton.
Viaduct Harbour Holdings is company which owns about 20ha of land at Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour. Last month, it presented its own plan for the cup bases.
Parker said that in a face to face meeting in February he had assured Dalton that Team New Zealand would not be forced on to Wynyard Point and that he(Dalton) was assured of a prime position, saying "to the victor the spoils".
Parker believes the Point-Halsey option meets that pledge.
"None of this is ideal," said Dalton, saying Team New Zealand would continue to work through the challenges to see the event in Auckland in 2020-2021.
"It's where our home is and where our heart is," said Dalton, adding Team New Zealand is meeting with challengers in Europe at the end of the month and confirmation of Auckland as a venue and the class rule are eagerly awaited by them.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed Team New Zealand's acknowledgement that the latest base option was workable, saying he was hoping a final agreement could be reached in the next couple of weeks before being presented to the governing body for approval.
"The America's Cup will be fantastic for New Zealand. We want Auckland to host the cup, and Council and government are working with Emirates Team New Zealand to ensure that we can provide the infrastructure in a timely manner and deliver an incredible event," Goff said.
Stop Stealing Our Harbour and Viaduct Harbour Holdings have said the latest plan is unacceptable because it will see a permanent 45m by 220m extension of Halsey Wharf - the size of a concrete rugby field.
"We are not building concrete rugby fields on the waterfront for the All Blacks. Why would we do it for Team New Zealand," said Stop Stealing Our Harbour spokesman Michael Goldwater.
He said the lobby group was a strong advocate for the Wynyard Point scheme with the Team New Zealand base located on a much smaller extension at the western end of Halsey Wharf.
Locating Team New Zealand at the western end of Halsey Wharf beyond the ANZ Events Centre would require an extension about half the size of the latest plan and retain unimpeded views to the harbour, Goldwater said.
Viaduct Harbour Holdings chief executive Angela Bull welcomed a shift in thinking by the parties away from building more and more permanent encroachments into the harbour and towards a vibrant, cohesive village on land around Wynyard Point
"The unnecessary double-base on the east of Halsey Wharf would make the America's Cup less cohesive. But much worse, it creates a new, permanent and completely unnecessary encroachment on Aucklanders' harbour. That is the wrong legacy for Auckland," Bull said.
Parker said a new resource consent application will be lodged for the new plan on March 23. It will sit along the current application which closes today.
A contractor has been lined up to build the infrastructure, said Parker, who is confident the cup bases can be ready by the end of next year when the first syndicates are due in Auckland.
Asked if there was a plan B, Parker said the parties would be guided by the cost and limiting intrusion into the harbour.
Meanwhile, Ngati Whatua has said it is opposing the resource consents applications lodged by Panuku Development Auckland for the America's Cup, which close today.
The applications are for an earlier proposal to locate the bases from Hobson Wharf to Wynyard Point, including a 75m extension to Halsey Wharf; and relocating the ferry and fishing industry.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Spokesperson Ngarimu Blair says the iwi's objection is based on the recognition of the Waitemata Harbour as a taonga.
"The mauri of the harbour has been significantly degraded from extensive reclamations and port developments, and we do not support further unwarranted intrusions like the large concrete wharf structure proposed by Panuku that will extend 75m into the Waitemata."
Blair said the iwi is also concerned about the two proposed 110m concrete wharf structures on Wynyard Wharf to move the ferry and fishing industries to the western side of Wynyard Point.
Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei would prefer an option that has minimal impact on the Harbour and is more cost effective, Blair said.