FILE PHOTO: Sailing - 36th America's Cup - Waitemata Harbour, Auckland, New Zealand - March 17, 2021 Emirates Team New Zealand celebrate winning the 36th America's Cup with the trophy REUTERS/Simon Watts/File Photo
March 30, 2022
(Reuters) -Barcelona was confirmed on Tuesday as the venue for the next America’s Cup in 2024, seeing off Malaga, Jeddah and Auckland in a closely fought competition to host the prized sailing event.
Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team New Zealand, who retained the America’s Cup last year with victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa in Auckland, said they had decided on Barcelona as the next host city as defenders of the ‘Auld Mug’.
The team had rejected a $99 million bid from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council to host the 37th edition of the America’s Cup, which is the oldest trophy in international sport and was first won in 1851.
“This should serve to promote the city in the world after the pandemic, to benefit Barcelona’s tradition of this sport in a maritime city and, in addition, will boost the emerging sector of innovation and technology, linked to maritime activities,” Barcelona’s city mayor Ada Colau told a press briefing.
“Having the event hosted in a significant city such as Barcelona will allow us to propel the growth trajectory (of the America’s Cup) on the global sporting stage,” TNZ CEO Grant Dalton said in a statement.
Seeing the high-speed AC75 “foiling” yachts racing a few hundred metres off the beach would be “nothing less than spectacular” when the event takes place in September and October 2024, he added.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed disappointment that the regatta would not return to Auckland.
“I probably feel the same way as many New Zealanders. I am disappointed around the decision that’s been made on where the America’s Cup will be held,” she told reporters in Wellington on Wednesday.
“As a government we certainly stumped up sufficient funding for it to be hosted here.
“We wanted it here because New Zealand treats it as a national event. I don’t think any other country in the world treats the America’s Cup in the way that we do.”
Team New Zealand are four-time Cup winners and have hosted the regatta three times in Auckland.
The Barcelona regional government said in a statement that initial estimates suggested holding the America’s Cup in the Mediterranean city would have an economic impact of around $900 million to $1 billion based on the previous event in Auckland.
Barcelona is also set to be part of a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics after Spain’s Catalonia and Aragon regions this week reached agreement for a joint candidacy.
($1 = 0.8997 euros)
(Reporting by Fernando Kallas; Additional reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Ken Ferris, Alexander Smith and Lincoln Feast.)