The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said that he does not expect a final decision to be made this week on whether Cork will play host to America’s Cup in 2024.
Speculation had been pointing to Cork as a possible location for the sailing competition as the office of An Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that it is considering the findings of a consultancy report it commissioned on the hosting of the event.
Speaking in Cork on Monday morning, Minister Michael McGrath said that “an extensive process of due diligence is underway” and that he does not expect the process to be completed this week.
He said that it is “critically important” that the process of due diligence, which is being led by the Department of Sport and Tourism, is completed where “a significant amount of public money is involved”.
Minister McGrath said that the Government is “very conscious of the very significant potential benefits it brings to Cork from a tourism perspective” and that there is a particular timeline that event organisers are working towards and that the Department is “engaging with external consultants in relation to an economic appraisal and the preparation of cost-benefit analysis”.
He said that once that work is done, it will be brought to Government for a final decision.
I don’t expect it will be this week but I expect that the work will be completed shortly.
"We recognise there is a level of urgency here but it is important when a significant amount of public money is being proposed to be put on the table that we have our homework fully done, that we have due diligence and that we’re very clear as to what both the costs are and what the benefits are so that work is ongoing and I look forward to seeing that being concluded.
“The important thing from my point of view is that Government is given all of the facts and all of the information to make an informed decision and I expect that that will happen very shortly,” he said.
Informally known as the Auld Mug, the trophy is awarded in sailing and is the oldest international competition in any sport.
Match races involve two sailing yachts: One from the yacht club that currently holds the trophy (the defender) and another from the yacht club that is challenging for the cup (the challenger).
And while the race village for the world’s third-largest sporting event could be located at Verolme dockyard in Cork Harbour, Minister McGrath did not wish to comment on the cost involved until he had seen the final cost-benefit analysis document.
He said that there has been a request for an upfront payment to advance the process but that those considerations would be made and that “the key thing is that we have a comprehensive due diligence completed in advance”.
We know from previous experience that putting in the effort and the time upfront and getting the analysis done properly always has a good return and it’s important to do that so we don’t have any surprises later on in the process if we are going down that road.
The 36th America’s Cup, in March 2021, was the most recent staging of the yacht race. It was contested on the inner Hauraki Gulf, off Auckland, New Zealand, between the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Circolo della Vela Sicilia, of Italy.