Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton says an announcement on the venue for the next America's Cup is imminent but he remains hopeful that it could still be held in New Zealand.
In a statement, Dalton said they have narrowed the potential venues to three overseas locations but says there remains an 'albeit small' chance the 37th America's Cup could be in Auckland again.
In June, Team New Zealand officially rejected the Government's $99 million bid to host the next America's Cup in Auckland. Dalton said at the time that it did not necessarily mean the Cup defence was heading offshore.
In today's statement, Dalton said they had received a 'significant number of expressions of interest from other countries to host the event while Auckland remains a 'small' chance'.
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"We need to remain hopeful that there is still a chance (albeit small), that a successful Defence is held in New Zealand. As part of continuing negotiations we have provided a draft Host Venue Agreement (HVA) to the Crown several weeks ago and are awaiting feedback. Finding the money for the event is crucial but the contractual aspects of accepting and advancing that money is of equal importance," Dalton said.
"In the meantime we have been busy analysing the pros and cons of the other shortlisted countries. We received a significant number of expressions of interest and that has now been narrowed to three. The expanded opportunities that appear to present themselves will enable Emirates Team New Zealand to retain all key personnel and mount a winnable defence as well as enhance the profile of the most successful America's Cup team in history. The goal is firmly the 'three-peat', it has never been done before."
The Irish Examiner reported in June that Cork is lining up a bid for the event, while the Isle of Wight, China, Saudi Arabia, Valencia and Dubai have also been tipped as possible locations.
"Meanwhile the Protocol drafting continues at pace. Along with The Challenger of Record we can promise an innovative Protocol which addresses diversity in the sport, sustainability, youth as well as cost control to help enhance entry numbers - but that's for another day," Dalton said.
"So watch this space, not long now and the Venue will be announced, soon after the Protocol allowing teams to plan their strategies to try and win from us the oldest trophy.