Spanish media is reporting the next America's Cup has been signed off for Barcelona to take over the hosting duties from Auckland, after the Irish city Cork withdrew from consideration.
According to reports in Spain, Catalan business minister Roger Torrent confirmed the agreement in an interview with Catalunya Ràdio radio station overnight.
"The America's Cup is a very important brand," Torrent said. Hosting the event would bring a huge return on investment, he added, highlighting the event's high standing, especially in markets such as the United States.
Barcelona mayor Ada Colau later announced the news on her Facebook page: "Attention, we have great news for the city's sport and economy: Barcelona will host the 2024 America's Cup sailing."
The official decision on the host is set to be announced by Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron on Thursday.
Team New Zealand successfully defended the Auld Mug last year with a 7-3 victory over Luna Rossa and then rejected a $99 million bid from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council to host the next America's Cup, meaning the event looked likely to be hosted abroad.
A four-city shortlist includes Barcelona, fellow Spanish city Malaga, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Cork.
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton was last week in Barcelona - Spain's second-largest city and capital of the Catalonia region - to view facilities ahead of the defenders' decision.
"New Zealand badly needed a local defence of the Cup after the ravages of Covid on its once-thriving tourist industry," a sailing source told NZME.
"Yes, America's Cup trophy sits for the time being in a New Zealand yacht club trophy cabinet, but is there really any point if the America's Cup is only now to be pimped around the world?"
"To my many friends in Spain, please understand that for most New Zealanders, it is to us akin to Spain winning the Football World Cup coupled with hosting rights for the next competition, then the Spanish Football Federation selling the event to say, Australia."
Overnight, Irish ministers Catherine Martin and Jack Chambers made the announcement not to proceed further in the bidding process.
"The assessment provided is that, while Cork Harbour is potentially a great venue for the event, based on the technical assessment carried out the necessary infrastructural and planning arrangements would not be in place to host the event in 2024," a statement said.
"An event of the calibre of the America's Cup brings with it an expectation of excellent delivery; the tight timeframe available prior to the 37th edition of the Cup brought with it a large risk of under-delivery."
The statement by the Irish ministers said 'the considerable amount of expenditure' to host the event was taken into account.
"The Ministers recognise that hosting such an event would have brought positives for tourism in Cork and the wider region and are committed to providing strong support to the tourism sector to rebuild as quickly as possible.
"However, it is also recognised that a very considerable amount of expenditure would have been required to deliver the event at a time of major and growing demands on the Exchequer and this had to be taken into account in arriving at a decision.
"The Ministers would like to acknowledge the very positive engagement with Team New Zealand/Origin Sports since this assessment process commenced, and to extend their best wishes to Team New Zealand for the 37th edition of the America's Cup."