CORK'S hopes of hosting the 2024 America's Cup remain alive after it was announced by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) together with Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) that they are extending the selection period for the shortlisted offshore venues to continue to work through final details and provide further information required for the respective bids.
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 was considering the findings of a consultancy report it commissioned on the hosting of the event.
High-level contacts between senior representatives of the Irish Government and the race authorities in New Zealand took place this week as further speculation that Government uncertainty was damaging the bid gather pace.
However in a statement this evening, RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young said: “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.”
The statement added that both ETNZ and RNZYS believe it is both prudent and responsible to extend the deadline in which the offshore venues can continue to progress negotiations after Covid lockdown in New Zealand has made it impossible for ETNZ team members to visit the venues.
It was originally planned to carry out essential face-to-face meetings and to provide final team feedback to act on Origin Sports Group’s recommendations.
"Furthermore, on Wednesday morning, ETNZ and RNZYS received a letter from Mark Dunphy regarding the viability of his funding to maintain the event in Auckland. This extension of the process will also allow Mr Dunphy further time to answer the questions we have already put to him over the past month."
Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ, said: “The fundamental fact is that we have a number of outstanding potential venues literally going down to the wire and all of them with strong and competitive bids on the table and firmly committed to completing agreements in the coming weeks – that’s a good place to be in for sure. It’s frustrating not to have been able to close our agreement with a Host Venue by the planned date of 17 September as previously proposed but we are now giving ourselves more time to work through the final details of the respective venues as the current COVID situation in New Zealand has made the process more difficult.
"As we have always maintained throughout, however unlikely it seemed, Auckland has never been off the table for obvious reasons. 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.” The search for the AC37 Host Venue was started back in May 2020 by Origin Sports Group but was paused for an exclusive three-month period from March 17th, during which the New Zealand Government had the exclusive right to negotiate AC37 being held in New Zealand and continued once this period lapsed."