Using the same methodology as used for the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cup, leading independent consultancy Market Economics has forecast that the 2021 America’s Cup would add up to $1billion to the NZ economy – if held in Auckland.
Estimates of the cost of providing a suitable waterfront facility topped out at just under $200million, showing a four-fold return on investment in just four years.
A successful defence in 2021 would yield a further economic boost of $1billion, with almost no outlay for the central Government.
Following a closed workshop session with Auckland Councillors, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) along with Panuku Developments (the city’s development arm) held a media conference in Auckland late Monday afternoon.
There the five options for the America’s Cup bases were presented.
The most creative, an extension to the area to the seaward side of Halsey Street and also Hobson Wharf, was also rated as the most difficult and most expensive.
Two of the options were for bases scattered across several locations. Two were centred around Captain Cook Wharf. However, neither is likely to succeed due to long-term conflicting use with cruise ships.
Two options were shown using Halsey Street as the America’s Cup hub.
One involved the creation of a new wharf around which the team bases would be built launching into a central basin which had a side and protected exit to the sea. A two-boat team base site would be required at the end of nearby Hobson Wharf. This option would add a third basin to the two already in existence and would use the Viaducts Events Centre as a Media and International Broadcast centre.
The area would house five two-boat bases and three one-boat team bases.
A second reduced footprint for the Halsey Street option would have a smaller wharf extension, no third basin, and two two-boat teams plus one single boat team based in that location. A second extension would be required on the end of nearby Hobson Wharf to take a single two-boat team, and then a further two two-boat teams and two single-boat teams would be based on the Westhaven extension. The Media Centre would be in the Viaduct Events Centre and the America’s Cup Village would also be based in the Viaduct area as in 2000 and 2003.
A third option also based around the Halsey St wharf, Hobson wharf would see two two-boat bases and one single-boat bases established on the Wynyard wharf area opposite Halsey St Wharf.
Clearly, the most elegant solution is the Halsey Street/Hobson Wharf extension with the teams clustered around the new basin. It is also said to be the most expensive of the options.
While it will attract the inevitable criticism from those averse to any new wharves being built on the Harbour, the optimum proposal does not encroach into the harbour beyond the existing wharf lines, and navigation in the harbour is unaffected.
Both Captain Cook Wharf extensions come close to intruding on existing harbour navigation lines. Responding to questioning ATEED and Panuku Development’s spokesmen said that they had been told that it would not be possible to cease operation in time to free the wharf for America’s Cup use, and it would seem that would rule out Captain Cook Wharf as an option.
Legacy use beyond the America’s Cup is not clear, but if the America’s Cup were not successfully defended by Emirates Team New Zealand in some future cycle the basin formed would be used for an expanded superyacht refit industry.
The new wharf extension would also be available as a marine water sports facility and used to attract events which are not possible to stage with current facilities.
ATEED General Manager Steve Armitage mentioned forming a long-term relationship with Volvo Ocean Race for an Auckland stopover. However a more extensive event list is required to utilise the facility – and that in turn would require ATEED and other bodies to be more aggressive about attracting significant events to Auckland and New Zealand. In particular event circuits which currently do not move out of the northern hemisphere would need to be targeted.
The APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Conference) will be hosted in Auckland in 2021, and some of the hosting cost and infrastructure will be shared with the America’s Cup. Also, as in 2003, if there is a second defence the economic return of up to $1billion would not require a second spend on infrastructure.
Team arrival and use of the bases has been targetted for late 2019 (summer) – later than earlier estimates of mid-2019 – winter in New Zealand. The resource consents need to be lodged in January 2018 and will be pushed straight through to the Environment Court to achieve a final decision by August 31, 2018.
Three criteria had been used to evaluate the options, explained Rod Marler of Panuku Developments – being the ability to be ready for the summer of 2019/20 when the first teams were expected to arrive. The second was whether the option would meet the team’s requirements in terms of land space, water space and security as well as creating an event village. The third criteria tested whether the option offered a lasting legacy to the City, region and New Zealand.
It was not clear where the idea originated that some teams would be bringing only a single boat – a surprising assertion given that the AC75 is a new class and any team that was serious about winning would need a two-boat program.
Neither was it clear where the overflow would go if more than eight teams (seven challengers and the defender) entered the 36th America’s Cup. Given that 12 teams entered the 2000 America’s Cup in Auckland and 10 entered the 2003 event, planning around just eight teams appeared rather conservative.
Responding to questions on the overflow, the two officials confirmed that either a second area would be required, or that teams would be restricted to bringing just one boat to Auckland.
Although no timetable has been published it would seem from the timings mentioned that the total regatta would be of three months duration instead of the one month for Bermuda in June 2017.
Team New Zealand have expressed a preference for the Halsey Street hub option which has all the teams in one area along with the Media Centre and America’s Cup Village.
The funding of the facility would be shared between the Auckland Council, central Government and with private interests keen to be involved.
The benefit that private interests would derive from the new facility was not made clear.
As a Host City agreement is still in development, the officials said that an Event Fee had not yet been discussed, and would not come into play until it was known that Auckland would host the event. ‘Potentially’ was the response to a question as to whether they would expect an Event Fee to be paid.
Bermuda paid a USD15million (NZD21.7million) Event Fee for the right of hosting the 35th America’s Cup.
The final decision on the favoured base option is expected to be taken at a full Council meeting on November 23.
by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com