Team New Zealand wins $13m rent-free base concession

Events centre to be closed for public events for up to seven years.

Team New Zealand is to be given the Viaduct Events Centre rent-free until 2022 as its base for the America’s Cup defence in 2021.

It is part of the $98.5 million of ratepayer spending Auckland Council is stumping up for the new Hobson Wynyard bases option.

The council will pay $13m to its owner, Regional Facilities Auckland, a council-controlled organisation, for Team New Zealand’s use of the events centre. It will be closed to public events for up to seven years.

Team New Zealand had wanted to negotiate a 20-year lease but the council knocked that back. If Team New Zealand loses the cup defence, it has another 18 months after the regatta before it must quit the site. The council says if that happens it has commercial options for the events centre.

The council is spending $57.2m on basic ground construction and the syndicates will build their own yacht bases. It is also spending $34m on commercial and related costs and $7.3m on event-related services, which includes council-controlled Panuku Development using its own staff and also hiring extras for the regatta.

On top of that, the council has already spent $1.9m on the original resource consent application for eight bases at Wynyard Basin. Another $400,000 will be spent on a new resource consent application for seven bases at the Hobson Wynyard option, which Mayor Phil Goff says the government is going to pay. Much of the technical work for the original application is able to be used in the new consent application.  

On the regulatory side, $250,000 has been spent on investigating moving storage facilities at the tank farm, rezoning and remediating of the land, which will mainly be hardstand and a cap and cover over the rest of it.

America's Cup base locations at the events centre, Hobson and Wynyard wharves.

Council officers say it is hard to provide for unforeseen costs but it’s highly unlikely there will be any. It will continue to work with the construction alliance to find better ways to build the new infrastructure to save more money. Any savings will be shared between the alliance, council and government. However, the building costs will not be known for another six months.

Consent applications cost
The original consent applications also included moving the Waiheke sea ferry and fishing boats. Council officers will continue work on that proposal and say it may not involve as much infrastructure building as first thought and the application will remain on hold until a new report later in the year. 

Mr Goff says the lease agreement with Team New Zealand is tailored to either winning or losing the America’s Cup. “The events centre is not necessarily a long-term base for Team New Zealand.”

Costs from the agreements signed by Team New Zealand, the council and government over leases, construction and other business will not be made public. Council officers say the agreements will remain confidential between the parties who sign them.

There will be no revenue take for the council from the America’s Cup regatta. The legacy will be the acceleration of better public space that has not been available to the public and new open water space for marine events.

Mr Goff says it will also be the jobs created in the marine industry and hospitality and those benefits are not strictly revenue, although Auckland CBD is the fourth biggest contributor to New Zealand’s GDP at $16 billion a year and that will rise significantly during the America’s Cup. 

There is little contingency in the council costs and councillor John Watson warned Team New Zealand not to come back for more money.

Kevin Shoebridge, Team New Zealand’s chief operating officer, says with the agreement signed racing yachts will be launching from the Hobson Wynyard bases areas from April next year. “All the bases available have been committed.”

His colleague Tina Symmans told councillors getting to a final bases option “ has at times been like mission impossible. Everybody has compromised and we are looking forward to a long sleep this weekend.”

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