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America's Cup - Bermuda provides initial impact estimate of 35th Cup

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World NZ on 3 Jul 2017
Emirates Team NZ finishes in front of a partially filled stadium - America's Cup Match - Bermuda 2017 Richard Gladwell
The office of Bermuda's Minister of Economic Development Dr. the Hon. Grant Gibbons has provided a public report on the economic benefits and fan attendance at the 2017 America's Cup regatta which was won by Emirates Team New Zealand on June 26, 2017.

The event was the biggest international sports event held in Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, which has a population of 65,000 at the 2010 census, approx 40,000 of the population are employed.

The Bermudan government invested $77million (USD $77m) in the event consisting of $15million in an event fee paid at $5million per year for three years, a $25million underwrite of sponsorship sought by the America's Cup Events Authority (some of which may have been drawn down), and the balance being spent on infrastructure, including the reclamation of Cross Island on which the America's Cup Village was housed and which Bermuda now has a legacy asset.

The economic benefit will be known later this year. The figure being widely quoted in New Zealand is $NZD500million ($360m USD) for the 2000 America's Cup.

Minister Gibbons said in the statement, “Heartfelt congratulations must again be extended to Emirates Team New Zealand on their magnificent win and sincere appreciation goes to all of the superb teams who participated in the 35th America’s Cup.

“Without a doubt, Bermuda has never hosted an event of this magnitude, and our success has already put us in an excellent position to host future international sporting and leisure events of similar scale.

“Although it is understood that AC36 will be held in New Zealand, decisions by teams, including the location of their bases, will be influenced by the timing of AC36, the style of boat and other race protocols for potential World Series events and races leading up to the finals. It is anticipated that announcements regarding AC36 will be made by the new Cup holder over the next weeks and months.

“But AC35 is now over and all the teams will enjoy a well-earned rest. Emirates Team New Zealand, Team France and Land Rover BAR will depart Bermuda by the end of July. We would like to give Oracle Team USA, Artemis and Softbank Team Japan the ability to maintain some presence in Bermuda even if it is substantially scaled down. This may require legislative amendments to continue existing concessions provisions. ACBDA is working with departing teams to facilitate their exit and will continue to liaise with the other teams regarding their future plans.

“America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) is winding down their operations, leaving a small team in Bermuda. There are details that need to be addressed by ACBDA and ACEA, and this work will continue over several months.

“The decommissioning of temporary structures in the Event Village and along Freeport Drive has already begun, and we envisage the Cross Island site being clear by the end of September. Pop-up structures can always be brought back and tailored to meet the needs of future events. The new infrastructure underneath Cross Island is permanent, flexible and available for future use. This includes IT, water, drainage, electricity and sewage.

“There has been much speculation about the economic impact of AC35. Information on the America’s Cup contribution to Bermuda and Bermuda’s economy has already begun to be collected. ACBDA hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent economic impact study for completion by October 2017. This study will also discuss social and environmental impacts and is comparable to the studies completed by previous America’s Cup host venues, such as San Francisco and New Zealand. Additionally, ACBDA will produce an event report by September that will detail their work and describe how AC35 was delivered. ACBDA currently plans to wind down by the end of the calendar year.

“Some information about AC35 is already available. I am pleased to note that through this prestigious sailing event, Bermuda received extraordinary visibility on the world stage as the Cup was broadcast to 162 countries with millions of people watching. This is only a snapshot. More details about Bermuda’s media exposure will be released as part of the final assessment report. Over 100,000 people visited the Village over 22 days, there were 62,315 booked tickets on the special AC ferries alone, and some 2,000 boats registered as spectators of the event.

“Bermuda hosted over 460 visiting boats, with over 80 of them being superyachts. We received extremely positive feedback from the owners and captains of these boats, some who had never been to Bermuda before. As a result of this success, we have been developing a long-term superyacht policy and legislative framework. Another positive feature of AC35 has been the development of new marinas and marine services at the Hamilton waterfront, Hamilton Princess, Caroline Bay and the facilities at South Basin in Dockyard.

“Small Bermudian-owned businesses also benefitted from AC35. ACBDA formed partnerships with the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation, the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, the Imperial Group and others to support small-business involvement during the events. More than 30 Bermudian small businesses, some of them new, were represented in the AC Village, and our food and beverage vendors enjoyed a huge volume of business.

Minister Gibbons concluded, “Now it is time to look to the future. We saw new sailing regattas come to Bermuda, and we expect to see more. Our Red Bull AC Youth Team, composed of a new generation of sailing talent, proved they can compete successfully against the best young sailors in the world. Discussions are currently underway as to next steps for the team. In addition, the Endeavour Sailing Programme has been privately funded through 2018.

“Bermuda was chosen to host the greatest race on water, with the finest sailors in the world racing the fastest boats ever to race in the America’s Cup. In front of thousands of fans in Bermuda, and millions more worldwide on TV and online, Bermuda delivered a first-class event that has benefited Bermuda now and in the future.

“This could not have been accomplished without the magnificent engagement of a host of organisations. For three years the ACEA has been a strong partner of ACBDA. We would like to thank them for all they’ve done to help put Bermuda on the world stage. In particular, thanks go to Larry Ellison and Sir Russell Coutts for their faith in Bermuda.

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