Team New Zealand ponders taking next America’s Cup abroad

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Even before the 36th America’s Cup sailing race has been concluded, defending champion Team New Zealand is offering cities around the world the opportunity to host the 37th regatta.

Team New Zealand will only get to decide the next venue if it retains the 170-year-old trophy in March. But it is already seeking expressions of interest from cities which might like to stage the regatta, which will probably take place in 2024.

Any move by the team to defend the America’s Cup in a city outside New Zealand would be a major break with tradition — and probably quite unpopular at home. Since New Zealand first won the America’s Cup from the United States in 1995, it’s three defenses have all been held in the waters around Auckland.

National and local taxpayers have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into Team New Zealand directly and into creating the infrastructure for those events.

But Team New Zealand has started circulating a glossy, 48-page “hosting guide” outlining the requirements and benefits and has reportedly been in talks with 10 cities interested in staging the event.

The hosting guide says Team New Zealand’s aim is for the 37th America’s Cup to be “the most successful … ever seen.”

General manager Grant Dalton said Team New Zealand was only exploring the possibility of moving the Cup as a means of raising the funds necessary to keep the team intact. He said rival teams likely will seek to sign Team New Zealand’s sailors when the current regatta ends.

“We would in normal circumstances stay here and God hopes we do end up staying here,” Dalton told local website Stuff. “Our intent is no more complicated than securing an enduring team.”

Dalton said rival teams “would strip this team in two minutes” if Team New Zealand doesn’t act to retain its sailors and shore crew.

“We won’t even get the boat back to the dock before we get stripped,” he said.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff, whose council has spent millions building the infrastructure for the current regatta, said any move to take the Cup from Auckland likely would cost Team New Zealand “a lot of support.”

“Having invested in infrastructure and having made huge efforts to get it completed on time and fit for purpose, both of which objectives have been achieved, we would expect Team New Zealand to take that into account when they decide where the Cup is to be held next time, in the event they win,” Goff told Stuff.

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