Team New Zealand parades the Auld Mug through Auckland’s viaduct on their winning return from Bermuda.
Major changes are planned for Auckland’s waterfront in the next few years as the city prepares to host the next America’s Cup.
The regatta won’t come cheap, with estimated costs ranging from $140m to $190m.
Councillors were presented with five venue options at a closed-door meeting on Monday, and Auckland Council’s governing body will be asked to approve a final choice next week.
OPTION 1: Extending Halsey Wharf, which is Team New Zealand’s preferred choice, but is also most expensive.
At this stage the front-runner is an extension to Halsey Wharf, near the recently developed Wynyard Quarter.
That’s the preferred option for Team New Zealand, as it ticks all the right boxes – but it’s also the most expensive.
OPTION 2: Kicking Ports of Auckland off Captain Cook Wharf, with boats launching from the western side.
Two other options involve the Captain Cook Wharf, however those appear to be dead in the water for several reasons.
The wharf is currently used by Ports of Auckland, which is already short on space and has made it clear it cannot vacate Captain Cook in time for the regatta.
Construction around the wharf would also have a “significant impact” on cruise ships, which would need to dock elsewhere.
OPTION 3: Kicking Ports of Auckland off Captain Cook Wharf, with boats launching from the eastern side.
In addition, Team New Zealand has raised concerns about choppy water around Captain Cook Wharf due to the frequent passing of ferries and other vessels.
Rod Marler from Panuku Development Auckland, the city’s regeneration agency, acknowledged Captain Cook no longer appeared viable but said the proposals “needed to be run to ground”.
Two other options also appear unlikely to get the go-ahead as they propose spreading the regatta venue across several waterfront sites.
OPTION 4: Dispersed central. Extensions to Halsey Wharf, Hobson Wharf, and Westhaven Marina.
Team New Zealand has made it clear it wants competing teams grouped together to create the “feeling of one village”.
“A single work platform and building in one area would certainly be preferred,” Marler said.
That leaves Halsey Wharf as the only realistic, viable option for Auckland if it wants to host the 2021 regatta.
OPTION 5: Dispersed clustered. Extensions to Halsey and Hobson Wharfs, with further boats at Wynyard Point.
“We dearly want to host this event in Auckland, and for Aucklanders and new Zealanders to get the benefit from it,” said Steve Armitage, general destination manager for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
Auckland is under pressure to get the process started.
The city has to confirm by August next year or hosting rights could be lost to Italy, although Team New Zealand is eager for its defence to be held in Auckland, as it was in 2000 and 2003
Team New Zealand up on foils in Auckland ahead of its successful America’s Cup challenge in Bermuda.
International teams would look to come to New Zealand as early as two years in advance to begin their training and buildup, meaning construction would need to be substantially completed by mid-2019.
Auckland Council will need to fast-track resource consents in order to meet that deadline.
Armitage said hosting the event would be a worthwhile investment.
“The projections show that from 2018 to 2021, the New Zealand economy stands to benefit to the tune of $555 to $977 million,” he said.
“If Auckland gets this right … There is an opportunity for New Zealand to be viewed as a global leader for maritime events.”
Bermuda, which hosted the 35th America’s Cup in June, recently released a report revealing the regatta was worth US$336 million (NZ$483m) to the island nation.
It appears Auckland Council and central government will split the costs of hosting the event, with additional funding from the private sector.
“Our intent is to try and minimise the exposure to the ratepayer and taxpayer,” Marler said.
However Armitage said those discussions took place when National was in power, and acknowledged the new government was yet to confirm whether it would stick to the agreement.
“We haven’t heard anything from ministers yet suggesting they’re unhappy with it,” he said.
Marler said there had been a lot of discussion among councillors when they were presented with the options on Monday afternoon.
“They appreciate the weight that is on their shoulders,” he said.
A final decision will be made by the governing body on November 23.
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