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America's Cup: Spanish central government refuses to finance Malaga's bid

by Richard Gladwell/ 28 Feb 13:22 PST 1 March 2022
Malaga is a city on the Costa del Sol in Andalucia, ©

Spanish newspaper Sur in its Malaga edition reports that the central Spanish Government has refused to lend financial support to the Malaga bid to host the 37th Americas Cup.

On Sunday in its English edition, Sur reported "The central government's delegate for Malaga, Javier Salas, yesterday put an end to Malaga city mayor Francisco de la Torre's ambitions of securing financing from the State to aid the candidacy to host the Americas Cup. The Spanish government notes that it is committed to backing an Expo in the province in 2027.

"The decision came as a surprise to the mayor, who had formally requested that the central government take on at least 20 of the 30 million euros that it would cost to expand the pier attached to the Levant dock (ADL) in the port of Malaga, which would serve as a base for the competing teams.

"The government is working towards improving the province's infrastructures at the port, the airport, the train system and the road network, which all depend on the State."

"But the government doesn't have the responsibility of financing Malaga city hall's supposed aspirations to host the Americas Cup, because it escapes our area of competence," the delegate said, who assured that the Executive is concentrating on getting the European funds to the province and, through the State budget, "ensure that the province has a just recovery, with financing towards local businesses."

For the full story in Sur's Malaga edition click here

Malaga on the Costa del Sol is the nearest to the entrance to the Mediterranean, being 65nm from Gibraltar, and offered the best winds of the three venues which have been mentioned/announced in the context of hosting the 37th America's Cup - the others being Valencia, host of the 2007 and 2010 America's Cup, and Barcelona host of the 1992 Olympic Sailing regatta.

Malaga is the second-most populous city in Andalusia after Seville and the sixth most populous in Spain.

The central Spanish Government, in the past, has had policy of not favouring one Spanish venue over another, and has made it clear that venues must be funded as regional projects, and/or with corporate funding.

Cork, Ireland and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are the other venues who are in contention. New York YC Challenger American Magic has previously made it clear that they would not compete in Jeddah, but subsequently lodged a Challenge, indicating that venue was unlikely.

While Auckland has never been taken completely off the table, the New Zealand Government offered only $31million (NZD) as a Hosting Fee, almost $10million less than the fee for the 36th America's Cup. While several climate related disasters had recently occurred at the time of the breakup of the exclusive negotiation period on June 17th 2021, subsequently the NZ economy has boomed, and the Government is forecasting they will be running budget surpluses in 2024, the year of the 37th America's Cup.

It is surprising the AC37 hosting has not been revisited publicly by the NZ Government, given the catastrophic damage done to the NZ Tourism industry (which has dropped from $17billion a year turnover to just $1.7million) as a result of the Fortress NZ policy adopted by the Labour Government in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.

The NZ Govt has said that their vision for the restructured NZ Tourism industry to shift from being backpacker based to one of high net worth individuals, which would appear to fit perfectly with the socio-economic profile of America's Cup fans. Further, with an audience reach expected to be well over 1billion viewers, an Auckland based Cup would appear to be a no-brainer.

From the Auckland Council's perspective there are major issues in downtown Auckland's hospitality and retail industry, which has slumped in the wake of a City Rail construction project, and the effect the Fortress NZ policy has had on the cruise ship industry, along with the closure of NZ's borders to all tourists for the past two years.

NZ's borders are now being opened, but no specific tourist and business rejuvenation strategies have been announced by the central NZ Govt, of which a 2024 America's Cup hosting could have been an integral part.

A slick muli-media campaign currently running under the auspices of the Kiwi Home Defence Group uses a group of influencers, including 1987-1992 NZ Challenger backer Sir Michael Fay former NZ Prime Minister, Sir John Key, and fashion icon Dame Trelise Cooper who, in a series of video messages, call on Emirates Team New Zealand to host the 37th America's Cup in New Zealand. However their efforts are probably better directed at urging the NZ Government to loosen its purse-strings and underwrite or invest in an event which paid a healthy, and well documented, dividend in 2000 and 2003 by way of team and fan spend on accommodation and tourism throughout NZ, along with $300million of calculated spend by 110 deposit paying superyachts scheduled to attend the 2021 America's Cup. That expenditure also fell victim to the Fortress NZ COVID strategy.

The first AC75's are permitted to begin sailing in three months, on June 17, by new teams sailing first generation AC75's. Existing teams are allowed to begin sailing on September 17, 2022 - conveniently timed for the start of the summer sailing season in Auckland and the southern hemisphere.

The Protocol for the 37th America's Cup encourages teams to be sailing at the venue for approximately 12 months from June 1, 2023, increasing the local spend by teams at the venue. For a period of four months from June 1, 2023 teams will only be allowed to sail at the Match venue, however they are prohibited from sailing within 400 metres of each other unless they are competing in officially sanctioned practice or regattas. Teams are also allowed to conduct their own surveillance at the America's Cup venue.

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