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America's Cup defence could move abroad after Auckland talks fail

·2-min read
Team New Zealand's skipper Peter Burling (C) holds the America's Cup after their victory against Luna Rossa in March

America's Cup organisers said Wednesday they had failed to reach a deal with the New Zealand government to host the next regatta in Auckland and would look at alternative venues abroad.

Team New Zealand (TNZ) successfully defended yachting's most prestigious trophy in March, defeating Italy's Luna Rossa 7-3 in waters off New Zealand's largest city.

Despite its Kiwi roots, TNZ is a private syndicate with no obligation to stage the next regatta in its home nation in 2024.

TNZ said a three-month exclusive negotiating period with the New Zealand government and Auckland Council for hosting rights in 2024 expired without striking a deal.

"All three parties have worked through these discussions with the best of intentions... and they have not been able to reach agreement by the expiration of the exclusive period," it said.

All three of New Zealand's previous America's Cup defences have been held in Auckland and shifting to another country in 2024 would dent the team's support.

America's Cup Minister Stuart Nash described the outcome as disappointing, saying Auckland had the infrastructure to host the event.

"Tens of thousands of die-hard Kiwi fans who turned out to support the historic defence of the Cup in March want it raced in New Zealand," he said.

"(But) at the end of the day, the America's Cup is a global commercial operation. It is an international business as much as a sporting contest."

Nash said the government tabled a "very generous, highly credible offer" worth NZ$99 million (US$71 million) in cash and in-kind support.

Local media reported TNZ wanted at least twice that amount, including a hefty hosting fee payable directly to the syndicate.

TNZ has not ruled out hosting in Auckland if an improved offer is made but Nash said there was no guarantee the government would come back to the table.

The coronavirus pandemic meant the economic benefits of this year's regatta were lower than expected, with only four teams competing and negligible international visitors.

The New Zealand government would also likely face pushback from the public to pouring increased amounts of taxpayer funds into an event widely seen as a billionaires' plaything.

Britain's Isle of Wight, Spain's Valencia and Dubai have all been tipped as potential hosts in 2024 although no formal announcements have been made.

ns/arb/dh

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