Halsey Wharf extension eyed as home base for Cup syndicates.
Secret planning is underway to hold the America's Cup in Auckland should Team New Zealand snaffle the Auld Mug off Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison and return it to the New Zealand Yacht Squadron trophy cabinet at Westhaven.
The Weekend Herald has learned of a proposal to dust off plans for a 60m to 80m Halsey wharf extension north of the Viaduct Harbour to accommodate the America's Cup syndicate compounds.
The wharf extension was mooted earlier this year to provide a sheltered basin for superyachts, but is now being eyed as the most logical location on the waterfront for the syndicates, with Queens Wharf performing the role of party central.
There's still a bit to go and I don't want to jinx it by getting ahead of ourselves
At the same time of the America's Cup dramatic finals in 2013, the wharf extension and the northern end of Wynyard Quarter were shaping up as the preferred waterfront locations. Difficulties with ending leases and moving the large storage tanks on the headland is seen as a huge barrier.
Team New Zealand, the Government and Auckland Council are remaining tight-lipped about talking of the next America's Cup in Auckland for fear of jinxing the outcome.
"There's still a bit to go and I don't want to jinx it by getting ahead of ourselves," Sports Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said.
Should Team New Zealand win, the first focus will be on a parade for Peter Burling, Glen Ashby, Grant Dalton and the rest of the homecoming heroes.
It will then be up to Team New Zealand to decide the location and timing of the next event. Given the shift to high performance boats and shorter races courses, it would be likely Team New Zealand would look at in-shore venues.
That opens the possibility of holding a defence in the inner Waitemata Harbour, subject to harbour and port traffic issues.
Simon Bridges, who as Minister of Economic Development is responsible for the Government's major events fund, said there should be no expectation for the Government being a big supporter of hosting the event if Team New Zealand win.
"We will, of course, consider any future investment on its merits and the return that such investment may bring to New Zealand,' Bridges said.
The Government committed $5 million to Team New Zealand in 2013 to retain key team members. The syndicate also received a handy financial boost last year through the Callaghan Innovation Growth Grant.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Two council bodies that will play a hand in any Auckland defence - Panuku Development Auckland and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development(Ateed), are saying little.
Panuku chief executive Roger MacDonald said the agency would be delighted for the waterfront to be considered as a potential host, while Ateed's Steve Armitage said Auckland is no stranger to hosting major international sporting events, including the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.
First National Real Estate chief executive Bob Brereton said the cup would be just the "spark" the city needs to kick off the flat market once again and bring forward deferred projects.
"Currently the market is lacking a bit of spark. We have low residential building numbers, tighter credit and a general feeling that the market has turned a corner and will continue easing. Winning the America's Cup could quickly change all that," he said.