New Zealanders delay choice of venue for 37th America’s Cup

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has delayed announcing a venue for the 37th America’s Cup so it can further study offshore bids and a late attempt by a Kiwi businessman to keep the regatta in Auckland.

The RNZYS, along with its racing team, Emirates Team New Zealand, was due to announce the venue on Friday. However, it said it is extending the timeline to give the competing groups more time to provide information about their bids.

The Kiwis are considering bids from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Cork, Ireland; and a Spanish bid. They also say they have received a letter from New Zealand businessman Mark Dunphy, who is attempting to put together private financing to keep sailing’s marquee regatta in Auckland. The Irish group reportedly had asked for more time even before the Kiwis extended the timeline.

“For the benefit of both the 37th America’s Cup and the eventual host venue, we would rather allow some more time now so we make the right decision as opposed to a rushed decision,” yacht squadron commodore Aaron Young said.

Emirates Team New Zealand says the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand has made it impossible for team members to visit the offshore venues.

The search for offshore venues began earlier this year after Emirates Team New Zealand failed to reach agreement with national and local governments on funding for a regatta in Auckland.

The New Zealand Government and the Auckland City Council have offered the syndicate 99 million New Zealand dollars ($70 million) to stage the defense of the oldest trophy in international sports in Auckland. But ETNZ, which defended the trophy in Auckland earlier this year, is reported to be seeking almost twice that amount to keep the event in New Zealand.

ETNZ boss Grant Dalton said it was “frustrating” not to have a hosting deal in place.

“As we have always maintained throughout, however unlikely it seemed, Auckland has never been off the table for obvious reasons,” Dalton added. “So now that we finally have an 11th hour letter from Mr. Dunphy, it would be remiss of us not to explore the viability of an Auckland event and if it in fact can be fully and completely funded locally. To date there has been no evidence of this being the case.”

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