The early word is the venue selected for the 35th America's Cup is bad news for Team New Zealand.
America's Cup organisers are set to announce the host of the 2017 regatta at a press conference in New York on December 3 (NZT), with reports from the United States suggesting the tax haven of Bermuda will be named.
The Associated Press yesterday reported Bermuda had won out over San Diego. America's Cup bosses have been weighing up the two bids for the past couple of months after earlier discounting San Francisco - the location of Oracle Team USA's stunning 9-8 win over Emirates Team New Zealand last year - and Chicago as potential hosts.
Team NZ have made no secret that of the two remaining options San Diego is their preference. The move to Bermuda would be a major blow for the team, with the US market far more attractive to commercial sponsors.
The potential benefits from any government investment would also be significantly reduced if the regatta was staged in Bermuda, where the ability to leverage business opportunities is more limited.
However, after earlier claiming Bermuda could be a deal-breaker for Team NZ, chief executive Grant Dalton's position on the venue appeared to have softened yesterday.
Responding to the unconfirmed reports that Bermuda had won the hosting rights for the 35th America's Cup, Dalton said the team had not been told of a decision.
"We have been invited to a press conference to be held at New York on [December 3] when the announcement will be made. Until then it is only media speculation," he said.
"San Diego and Bermuda are the only potential venues left in the race so the media has a 50/50 chance of being right. We have developed business cases for both venues and have been in communication with potential sponsors and supporters.
"The team awaits the official announcement and will then assess the situation and closely examine the funding model."
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce admits having the cup in Bermuda would make it more challenging to get value for public money.
He told the Weekend Herald Bermuda's offer to host the event tax-free is seen as favourable to privately funded teams whereas the Government would get better bang for its buck in San Diego. The choice of the British territory is also likely to be unpopular with traditionalists. It will be the first time a US defender stages the America's Cup outside theUS and the first time in the regatta's 163-year history that a defender sails the races in foreign waters by choice rather than necessity. In 2007 and 2010, Swiss team Alinghi held the America's Cup in Valencia, Spain, because it wasn't practical to race on Lake Geneva.
Before winning the America's Cup in 2010, Oracle owner Larry Ellison spoke passionately of how he wanted to return the Auld Mug to the US after a 15-year absence. Now he looks set to take it offshore.
- Additional reporting: AP