NZ luke-warm over Bermuda America's Cup
The Government has confirmed Bermuda is a far less attractive America's Cup proposition for public funding as they await Team New Zealand's business plan.
Bermuda today beat San Diego for the hosting rights to the 35th America's Cup to be sailed in June 2017.
Team New Zealand must now convince the Government they are still worthy of funding.
The public contribution of $36m was central to their last unsuccessful bid that finished with their heartbreaking loss to Oracle Team USA in San Francisco last year.
The Government has already given Team New Zealand $5m for their latest campaign, a lifeline as Kiwis awaited details of the next regatta.
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today stressed Bermuda's negatives though they waited with interest to see what Team New Zealand offered in the way of a local element to the campaign.
There were strong suggestions today that Team New Zealand could host a major qualifying event in the buildup to the finals.
"The drums have been beating for the last couple of weeks, and Bermuda's not our preference - we've been pretty clear about that," Joyce said today.
"There's the added element of some events taking place in Auckland, which I understand could be part of the Challenger Series, but it's all pretty sketchy at this point," he said.
Joyce said there was a "massive difference" in terms of marketing, between holding the cup in Bermuda and holding it on the US West Coast.
"The West Coast is one of our target markets for our IT companies, for our food and beverage, for our high-tech manufacturers.
"It's a beach-head into the mainland US, and that's frankly where most New Zealand companies start from," he said.
While most of New Zealand's exposure would come from television rights, the face-to-face contact with companies was the most important thing for New Zealand businesses.
"[Television rights] are part of it, but the leverage opportunities for getting big businesses to come along and experience a bit of New Zealand, like what we did last time in terms of of the functions and discussions between New Zealand companies and American companies was very much part of it."
Joyce would not be drawn on speculation that hosting the cup in Bermuda was was a deliberate attempt to push Team New Zealand out of the race.
"I just don't get into that, I mean, it's the Americas Cup - who knows? It's wheels, within wheels and I've got no idea.
"I try not to occupy my mind with trying to work out all the machinations."
The thought of spending a week on the tropical shores of Bermuda was apparently not enough to tempt him to open the Government check book.
"Some unkind person on Twitter today said me in Bermuda shorts should be a decision easily made not to go to Bermuda."
Joyce, however, was reluctant to say Government sponsorship was a "no-go" until he'd seen a proposal, but a decision had to be made quickly.
"We'd obviously need that information as quickly as reasonably possible and then we'd be in a position to make a final call and Team New Zealand would then have the information about where they go in terms of their other sponsors.
"My understanding is they've been preparing two proposals - one based on Bermuda and one on San Diego.
"I'm assuming the Bermuda one will come flying towards us fairly quickly now and the added part of it will be the Auckland element, and I'm assuming they'll want to lay that out," Joyce said.
But a move to host part of the Challenger Series in Auckland would also have to be consulted among the other syndicates, which would take time.
"We'd just have to have a look at it. Yes, they need certainty, but we need to know what's actually being proposed.
"My understanding is that it would be part of the challenger series, but we don't know how much of it, and exactly how that works."
The Government was not interested in simply funding a sport. The time-zone Bermuda sits in made it difficult to market Kiwi companies offshore.
"Bermuda may make it for some sponsors and less attractive for others, and that's something they'll work through undoubtedly.
"Bermuda's closer to Europe time-zones, so there'll be some sponsors that would consider it more beneficial to be involved in a Europe-centric time-zone than, say, the west coast of the United States.
"It's just that it's not the case for us, that's all."