December 14, 2017 / 10:17 PM / a month ago

Team New Zealand boss endorses America's Cup preferred base venue

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - The choice of venue for the next America’s Cup regatta in Auckland has been endorsed by Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton.

Auckland Council voted on Thursday to extend and develop three areas around the Wynyard Basin on the central city’s waterfront at a cost of about NZ$142 million ($99.16 million) and use them as a base for the regatta, which will be held in 2021.

The decision, however, has met with opposition from central government, who had urged the Council to investigate developing a wharf to the west of the preferred option instead.

The Council’s decision was not binding on the government, local media reported, and the two would continue negotiations on the venue and the potential split of funding for infrastructure.

Dalton, who helped engineer Team New Zealand regaining sport’s oldest trophy in June when they beat Oracle Team USA 7-1 in Bermuda, said he was pleased the Council had made a decision on the base.

“We all agree that the Wynyard Basin is the better option,” Dalton told radio station Newstalk ZB on Friday.

”There is some tension but it is all part of the process. Sometimes it ends up being played out in the media and gets a life of its own.

“But we are making good progress and yesterday was a great step. We are engaged with the council and the government and we are moving forward.”

Dalton had warned in late September that venues in Italy would be considered if Auckland was unable to build the infrastructure in time for the teams, who are expected to begin arriving in late 2019.

However, that would only be as a last resort and he repeated that planning permission needed to be approved early next year for construction to begin by mid-2018.

Dalton added that an event fee being sought by the organizers was not a charge on hosting the regatta in New Zealand, but what was needed to run it.

Both the last two host cities, San Francisco in 2013 and Bermuda this year, paid America’s Cup organizers to host the event. San Francisco paid US$30 million, while Bermuda US$80 million.

Dalton said the fee would be used to run the operations of the regatta and ensure free entry for fans to the Cup base. It would also allow the racing to be broadcast on free-to-air television.

“Basically to put the event on costs money,” he told TVNZ.

”I don’t want to see this on pay to air. I don’t want people to have to pay to come and watch the event in a village atmosphere where you’ve got to pay to come in.

“That just doesn’t make sense to me as a Kiwi.”

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Toby Davis

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