Here we go. The spreadsheet jockeys are out in force in New Zealand. You know, the ones that sat at the front of the class in maths and were considered as bordering on genius in economics whilst you and I mused the wonders of the aeronautics of paper planes or doodled 12 Metres on the back of text books, bored out of our minds at simultaneous equations. When Microsoft launched Excel in 1985 it was like all their Christmases came at once whilst you and I did something far more worthwhile…like sailing.
I’m afraid my friends, that the nerds, the killjoys, the myopic, the bean-counters, the ones with little imagination have come back to haunt us and they’ve picked on the America’s Cup as the football to kick around the New Zealand media, presenting damning figures of ‘lost revenue’ whilst completely missing the bigger picture. Articles have been filed in the national newspapers that are almost willing the Cup away as some kind of financial kryptonite sent from the Gods to suck up all the Kiwi dollars in existence. It’s sad. It’s really sad and I don’t think it reflects the mood of the people of New Zealand in any way, shape or form.
Put it in perspective. The last Cup, you don’t need reminding, was set against a brutal global lockdown. How the Kiwis protected their borders and kept not only the event but real life going was remarkable.
It was the only global sporting mega-event to get away in 2020 and early 2021. It set the template and the standard. As global spectators, we are so incredibly grateful for the sights, the sounds and the images that will last for a thousand years of that last America’s Cup. What was achieved was incredible. It put New Zealand on the map as a progressive nation that delivered at the highest level. Put it at a local level, if I have the choice to do business with a Kiwi, I will. The goodwill is enormous. Off the scale. I don’t see that number in the figures. The ‘loss’ will be repaid a thousand times over.
The deficit figures being bandied around vary from NZD$293m to NZD$156m – pick a number and choose your standpoint. But spending on lasting infrastructure was brought forward, areas were regenerated, culture and arts were supported, Auckland thronged to a vibrancy and colour that 280,000 Kiwis enjoyed. That’s not to be sniffed at and Auckland returned 85 cents in the dollar invested. The Challenging nations, desperate to win the America’s Cup paid a far, far higher price.
The Olympic Games is costing Japan $15bn (US) for three weeks of sport and zero chance of a tourist bonanza thereafter. It doesn’t prove a point and I accept it’s different gravy but it provides a snapshot of perspective, a lens to view this through. The British Grand Prix costs Silverstone Race Track $22.5m for four days of Formula 1 racing – and they skirt by the bankruptcy courts every year. Auckland had four months where the world was watching – a billion people viewed the event in some form. Even the most disengaged of my friends marvel at the Cup photos and videos. Auckland did itself proud. What a Cup.
Personally I’d like, no I’d love, to see Auckland host the next America’s Cup. It’s the right thing to do (much as I would wish it otherwise). It’s the Kiwi’s divine right as holders and anything else will feel very different. And for the people of New Zealand – not the ones calling the shots – the ordinary Kiwis, it’s their Cup. They own it. They won it. They cheered. They should be listened to. They should decide. It’s a desperate decision to go overseas and one not taken lightly as the weight of history and a nation’s expectation that the right thing will be done eventually, hangs in the balance. Showboating billionaires with big yachts and helicopters don’t cut it with the Kiwis – they are a fair but hard sporting nation who know what good looks like and this one smells worse than a dead whale on a beach on the shores of Aotearoa.
And now to add salt into the wounds, the bean counters are ploughing in with woe-is-me numbers and it’s sitting poorly with a disbelieving Kiwi population whose taxpayers dollars were poured into the last fabulous defence where their team didn’t just win but pummelled everyone from start to finish.
In a separate report published by the holders’ body ACE, it was a more upbeat assessment and personally I’m full square with Grant Dalton when he looked at the Cost Benefit Analysis (yawn) as he surely must: “Under the circumstances we are really pleased with the cost benefit analysis announced today. To have a cost benefit ratio of 0.85 for Auckland on an event that was massively compromised because of COVID-19 and the closed borders to international visitors, international media and superyachts. Certainly the world changed significantly since we won the America’s Cup in 2017, and essentially the entire organisation of the event was flipped on its head one year out so even just the fact we managed to achieve putting on a successful major global sporting event in Auckland, while the majority of the world was locked down was a huge achievement.”
And he’s right. It was a huge achievement and the absolute right thing to do would be to have The Match again on the Huaraki Gulf. It would be great to have a global travelling circus that matters to decide the Challenger and drum up sponsorship monies for Team New Zealand but the Cup should be on the line in Auckland and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron should either be handing the Cup over gracefully (to the Brits) or locking the doors for another four years (more likely).
Don’t listen to the bean-counters in a pandemic. The picture is always doom and gloom. The glass is always half empty. Creativity, imagination, determination and goodwill exit stage left faster than Te Rehutai on a broad reach. But just look at what was achieved and imagine what could be achieved. That’s where mankind moves forward. That’s where the Grant Dalton’s of this world excel. They know what you and I don’t and have the foresight, will and determination to execute at the highest level. Revel in the reflective glory and open New Zealand to the world in 2024.
Everyone will be there.
The key findings from the Council and Government reports include:
* 36th America’s Cup attracted 38,745 visitors to Auckland, who stayed 377,765 nights around the region.
* 36th America’s Cup created an additional $298.2 million of expenditure in Auckland through the costs of event operations, purchases of tourism goods and services, and other goods and services.
* It was the most watched America’s Cup of all of time with a total global audience of 941 million people and a dedicated audience of 68.2 million viewers across the world, who watched 52 hours of the live broadcast in 236 territories.
* The overall economic return of the event was lower than forecast. This was due to the significant impacts of COVID-19, restricting international visitors, media and superyachts as well as public race days in the race village. This was further impacted by a lower-than-expected number of challengers and the costs being higher than initially forecast.
* The cost-benefit analysis (CBA) for Auckland has identified a benefit-cost ratio of 0.85. In other words, for every dollar put in Auckland got 85 cents back. When considering financial returns only, Auckland got 72 cents back for every dollar put in. The CBA considers social, environmental and cultural factors as well as financial.
* Legacy infrastructure includes upgraded and expanded superyacht berthages, upgraded wharves, new public spaces and event spaces in Wynyard Quarter, calm water spaces for future water-based events.
* 23 supporting events and activations were held throughout Auckland as part of the Summernova Festival which attracted more than 70,000 unique attendees, separate from the America’s Cup events.
* 94% of attendees were satisfied or very satisfied with their overall AC36 experience.
* 89% of attendees living in Auckland said that hosting AC36 increased their pride in Auckland and 85% thought it made Auckland a more enjoyable place to live.