John Key says America's Cup interest waning

Last updated 11:50 16/06/2014
Grant Dalton
ON A CASH HUNT: Team New Zealand's Grant Dalton needs to find more money to bankroll the syndicate.

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Prime Minister John Key believes public interest in the America's Cup is dropping and says Team New Zealand must find private sector sponsors and donors to fund another campaign.

''My sense actually is the public is waning on the idea a bit,'' Key told Newstalk ZB today.

''I think there's a few people saying 'we don't like the fact that this is a sport where the winner sets the rules'.''

Key reaffirmed that the government would not fund the next Cup tilt, saying it ''can't be a government-led thing''.

Key's comments came after TNZ boss Grant Dalton last Friday confirmed the team's resources would expire at the end of this month.

The government was prepared to allocate TNZ a further $2 million but wanted to see private sponsorship help tide the America's Cup syndicate over as they sort out a potential challenge for 2017.

Economic development minister Steven Joyce said he was ''well aware'' of TNZ's precarious position but wanted evidence of private funding before making any commitment.

They had gained ''significant'' sponsorships in the past week, Dalton said, which he believed met government criteria for survival money to get them through to February.

TNZ's first cup deadline is a US$1 million entry fee on August 8.

Dalton said ''there is no point paying your entry fee if you can't make it [long-term]''.

TNZ were ''constantly talking'' with the government.

The next round of talks will be crucial to a situation that is delicately balanced in an election year.

After being told by Joyce last week to ''go away and line up your money'', Dalton believed they had now met that criteria for public funding.

A sponsorship drive over the past week meant they fulfilled ''what we can put in the tin''.

Dalton claimed that long term TNZ are ''in better shape than ever with sponsorships''.

But he stressed that the major deals wouldn't materialise till February because they were based on European companies working to their financial year deadlines who wouldn't commit now, especially without the finer details of the cup venue.

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