A new host city for the next America's Cup could be announced within months if Team New Zealand retain the Auld Mug, according to a pitch document sent to prospective venues.
Days after the Herald on Sunday revealed the cup could leave Auckland even if it is successfully defended by Team New Zealand, the NZ Herald was sent a detailed "hosting guide" setting out the holder's ambitions for the next event.
According to the 48-page document, Team New Zealand commissioned a major London-based sports consultancy to run a world-wide selection process aimed at holding the "most successful America's Cup event ever seen" in 2023 or 2024.
Team New Zealand's ambition, the document stated, is to "secure a Host Venue/City partner that is willing to invest in the event, can deliver required world-class facilities and continue to engage new fans into our sport".
If they retain the cup, Team New Zealand's management want to expand the event to put it on a similar level to the Olympics Games, football World Cup and Formula 1, the document said.
It does not explicitly say Auckland will not be in contention to host the cup again, but it does include a possible timeline for an event held in the northern hemisphere in two years' time.
Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton told the Herald the team's first priority "has always been to defend the cup in New Zealand".
"We are a team that have always existed from cup to cup, event to event, so have always had to look ahead at all legitimate commercial possibilities to survive.
"And as said previously the world of sports events and sponsorship is a different place now due to Covid-19.
"In answer to your question about Auckland being in contention for the next America's Cup the answer is: Yes, absolutely ...
"We want to reiterate again that none of this matters unless we can defend the 36th America's Cup which obviously is our full focus right now."
In a sign of the commercial considerations that the holders are grappling with after the Covid-19 outbreak disrupted the latest event in Auckland, Team New Zealand hopes to double the number of competing boats and dramatically increase television audiences and commercial revenues, according to the document.
The successful bidder would be required to pay Team New Zealand a "hosting rights fee" that reflected the "commercial potential and economic impact of the America's Cup to a Host venue", the document states.
The proposal envisaged that the next event would keep the same rules so that "new teams can purchase boats from existing teams and fast track entry into the event".
It is not known when the hosting guide was prepared.
However, according to a timeline in the document, Team New Zealand and its advisers anticipated starting contact with potential host venues in October last year - months before the latest America's Cup races began in Auckland.
It set out an ambitious timescale under which discussions with interested bidders would take place between October and this month, while racing during the latest cup was taking place, with a deadline for receipt of proposals on February 28.
A shortlist of three to five venues would be drawn up in March.
Representatives of the shortlisted bidders would then be invited to Auckland to watch Team New Zealand's defence in the 36th America's Cup finals series next month.
If Team New Zealand retained the cup, it would quickly move on to final negotiations with the favoured next host city, the document said.
A contract would be signed and the new venue announced between June and August 2021, the document said.
Under the proposed new structure, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the yacht club that formally holds the cup, would have an "affiliate partnership" with the new host venue yacht club.
The document said that Team New Zealand, as the current holder, "essentially is the key controller and decision-maker of all aspects of the next event" and "will continue to hold that position" if it retains the cup next month.
Team New Zealand's management is the "primary decision maker" on where to host the 37th cup, it added.
When questioned about the yacht squadron's involvement in decision-making about where a future cup defence may be held, Dalton said "as was mentioned previously by the RNZYS, Emirates Team New Zealand has been contractually appointed by the RNZYS to defend and organise the 36th America's Cup as well as future events should we win this one.
"This includes choosing the venue.
"In saying that, we have always and will always work closely with them in all decisions with regard to the future of the America's Cup."
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Aaron Young said the squadron had "no further comment to make at this point - currently we are doing all we can to support ETNZ to win the 36th Americas Cup."
The document contained extensive detail on the financial contribution and obligations Team New Zealand demanded of a host city, and technical requirements for holding the event which included having a race area with a depth of at least six metres and an onshore spectator village close by.
Team New Zealand appointed Origin, a sports advisory firm based in London, to oversee the venue selection process. The company was founded by Sir Keith Mills, a British businessman who was closely involved in organising the 2012 London Olympics.
Heading into the Cup racing?
• Give yourself plenty of time and think about catching a ferry, train or bus to watch the Cup.
• Make sure your AT HOP card is in your pocket. It's the best way to ride.
• Don't forget to scan QR codes with the NZ COVID Tracer app when on public transport and entering the America's Cup Village.
• For more ways to enjoy race day, visit at.govt.nz/americascup.