No final decision has been made about where the next America's Cup will be held - but it is highly unlikely that it will be in New Zealand.
Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton on Tuesday night told more than 400 members of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) that it was extremely unlikely that an agreement with the Government to stage the next event on Kiwi waters would be reached, after more than three months of negotiations had failed.
Dalton was addressing RNZYS members at the club's headquarters on Team NZ's reported plans to take the event offshore.
The Kiwi syndicate retained the Auld Mug by beating Italian outfit Luna Rossa in the Cup Match in March.
Since then negotiators appointed by the Crown have been trying to thrash out a deal with Team New Zealand. As first reported by the Herald earlier this month, an offer worth around $100 million from the Government and Auckland Council to keep the Cup in New Zealand was rejected by Team NZ.
The Herald understands they wanted a package worth more than $200m. The three-month exclusive negotiation period with the Government ends on Thursday.
"You've heard that the Government and the council is putting in $100 million, $99 million actually is the number," said Dalton.
"That's a lot of money. But the devils of the detail, terms and conditions don't make it that amount of money so as we sit here today, with two days to go, we don't have a deal.
"Will we have a deal in two days – a day and a half? Probably not, but that doesn't mean to say it's going [offshore]. There is money in town, we all know that … but it isn't coming that easy, the phone's not ringing off the hook.
"Everybody just needs to calm down a little bit, because although we finish the negotiation period with the Government and council on Thursday, we don't finish the end of it being in New Zealand and in Auckland.
"It just opens it up to the chance of other bids. The last time … honestly I think it was 45 minutes before we were about to sign, to agree to go somewhere else, the deal was done to stay here.
"This is not us taking the Cup away yet, but things have changed."
Dalton also fired a barb at Auckland Mayor Phil Goff for implying that no deal could be reached with Team NZ.
"We look forward if it comes to pass with the discussion with the Mayor who's sort of decided to go off the other day half-cocked about our base, because we ain't going anywhere," Dalton said.
"There's this notion that somehow we're looking to sell out, take it out of New Zealand and go with it. First of all, we're trying for a team that's trying to three-peat, we're trying to continue the dynasty that we've started out of Bermuda and go to the next stage. We still represent the industry and you could argue that in brand New Zealand and the industry, there's some gain now and again taking that away to another country to promote."
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Dalton said Team NZ's aim was to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2003 - when the team was raided of its best talent by foreign billionaires and eventually lost the Auld Mug.
"We exist as an organisation with the club to defend the America's Cup and an event that has a weakened defender, you'll end up with a semi repeat of what happened in 2003 - well in my mind was one of the worst sporting tragedies in New Zealand's history," Dalton said.
"In the end, we will always be Emirates Team New Zealand, we won't be a bunch of individuals. In the end, we exist to win the Cup and we will spend a lot of our time here.
"In the event that we have to go, there seems to be this notion that we're about to pack up our bags and move to another country. [That's] not the case at all.
"We would hope ... that we could have a World Series here, do our summer training here, build our boat here, our people are employed and they're Kiwis, the industry around us will still supply to us."
Asked what he needed from the Government to keep the Cup in New Zealand, Dalton said the relationship was "really good".
"Frankly, I think what the Government is offering is completely reasonable and fair, and that's as far as they can go, if it is as far as they can go, I think that's quite reasonable. They've put up an offer, there's a deadline, we think that deadline will probably pass, I think they probably do too.
"We're nearly there, but you never know."
According to Dalton, a review of this year's campaign identified some areas of weakness.
"We've been doing a stringent review of our campaign. It was a good campaign, not perfect and if we want any chance of repeating and winning again, we need to be pulling the campaign apart and put it back together and get better," Dalton said.
"Unless we go through it bolt and nut, race by race, department by department, and be critical of ourselves and rebuild - we won't be successful."
Earlier RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young expressed his support of Dalton's efforts.
"Team NZ has very little in its coffers to mount a defence and it could be that the club and team have no other option but to take offshore," Young said.
"We don't always agree on everything - but remember, without them [TNZ] the Cup wouldn't be upstairs. We would hold it in Auckland in a heartbeat but ... sad as it is, the Cup is all about money. There is no money tree.
"Dalts is doing his best in difficult times and while he's shown he is capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat, this is on a knife-edge."
The news comes after Emirates, Team NZ's title sponsor, posted a historic NZ$7.7 billion annual loss - the first time the airline hasn't posted a profit in over three decades.
An official announcement is expected on Wednesday morning, with both the Government and Auckland Council appearing to be preparing statements about the future of the Cup.
Butterworth: Team NZ in tough position
Four-time America's Cup winner Brad Butterworth was at last night's meeting and told Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking this morning that Team NZ was in a "tough position".
He stressed that Dalton had said a final decision on the next venue had yet to be made.
Butterworth said it was a tough climate for Dalton. "His problem is he's got to put a budget together that he can do a reasonable job to try and defend it," he said.
"I think New Zealand does deserve to have the Cup here, that's really the prize when you win it. This time in the economy and all the problems they face, it's a pretty tough ask I think."
If Dalton was to put his cards on the table and explain why it couldn't be in New Zealand, Butterworth thought people would understand.
"The yacht club is in a tough position, sitting there as the trustee of the club. They want to try and do a good job of defending it and they would rather do it here.
"Everybody would rather do it here. He's just in a tough spot."