Team New Zealand has made it perfectly clear that it does not want Bermuda as the venue for the 35th America's Cup. Nor do the other challengers. But the antics and attitude of the defender, Team Oracle USA, provide no grounds to dismiss yesterday's Associated Press report that "a person with knowledge of the situation" had told it Bermuda has been selected over San Diego.
An official announcement is not scheduled until December 2, the day after the second of two US$1 million entry instalments falls. But this tip-off should concentrate the minds of both the Government and the potential corporate sponsors of Team NZ. Their financial support was always going to depend on the host city. In terms of commercial possibilities, Bermuda does them no favours whatsoever.
Team NZ wanted a venue that provided the same sort of market exposure as San Francisco last year. When it was ruled out, San Diego, also on the United States' west coast, became its preference. Bermuda, 1030km off America's eastern seaboard and boasting a population of just 65,000, has nothing like the same attractiveness. The British territory would host the event tax-free and offer a favourable time zone for TV audiences in Europe and New Zealand. But nothing much else.
Oracle has already tilted the deck its way in the event protocol. Now, if the AP report is correct, there is to be another slap in the face. Throw in the Treasury's warning about "poor value for money" and it is becoming extremely difficult to see a challenge as either tenable or desirable.