Taxpayers score America's Cup funding win

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 16:54 27/03/2014

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The Government says the $36 million of taxpayer money used to send Team New Zealand to the America's Cup has been recovered more than twice over.

This afternoon Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce released an independent report into the "direct and indirect benefits" of entering the iconic yachting regatta.

"From a $36m taxpayer investment, the evaluation shows an estimated positive impact of $87m to the New Zealand economy," Joyce said.

Team New Zealand blew a comfortable lead to lose the series 8-9 to cup defender Oracle in San Francisco last year.

Sixty-six per cent of the campaign's funding came from international sources including sponsors, meeting the Government's requirement to find $2 for every $1 of State support.

The report said $153m, representing 85 per cent of the total campaign budget, was spent in New Zealand.

Joyce said one of the key benefits was the boost to New Zealand's profile in international media over the 55 days of racing.

However, opponents of the funding have pointed out that yacht racing is a niche sport with a relatively small global audience.

The Government has already made an interim investment of $5m to keep key team syndicate members for the next challenge.

A decision on further funding will depend on the business case Team New Zealand delivers.

Joyce said he had made it clear to the team that the Government needed to have confidence a stronger governance structure had been put in place.

He also released an evaluation into New Zealand Trade and Enterprise's business leveraging programme running alongside the America's Cup, that involved $3.9m of funding.

More than 200 companies from sectors including technology, food, wine, marine, aviation and tourism hosted former and potential clients during the event.

The report said cup activity had contributed to trade and investment deals worth $200m, as well as a further $120m of new sales opportunities and investor interest.

The reports were prepared by research firm Market Economics, and peer-reviewed by the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research.

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