Cork keeps Irish America’s Cup dream alive with new cheaper proposal

New bid would mean government cost savings of €80m in staging fees.

The dream of staging the 37th America’s Cup in Cork, Ireland is still very much alive.

Far from giving up on the quest to secure the government funding required to bring the international regatta to the city, the bid team in Cork have put forward an impressive and – importantly – less expensive alternative proposal.

Having received a lukewarm government response to an initial plan to base the AC37 team bases and race village on privately owned land, the group is now pitching the much cheaper option of using publicly owned land to host the international event.

The new proposition would see the technical area and team bases for the 37th America’s Cup located at Tivoli Docks, a site within the Port of Cork deep water commercial shipping facility situated on the River Lee (see header image).

Meanwhile the event’s public access race village would be located separately upriver at Kennedy Quay (below), close to the city centre and the main train and bus stations.

A downside of the shift to the Tivoli site from the originally proposed privately-owned dockyard site in Rushbrooke near Cobh is that it would mean a much longer tow out time for the teams to reach the suggested racing area on the open waters outside the Cork Harbour entrance.

The huge plus, however, is the estimated government cost savings of €80m in staging fees, to put on the 37th America’s Cup.

How the Irish Government has received the new plans is unknown at this point. In September politicians and civil servants asked for six-month due diligence period to consider the viability of Ireland hosting the America’s Cup.

Many believed then that the government’s stance spelled disaster for Cork’s America’s Cup hopes.

However, the recent announcement by the America’s Cup holder Emirates Team New Zealand that the AC37 venue announcement had been put back to the end of March 2022 means the Irish city is very much still in the running.

The cost of preparing the newly proposed sites is estimated to be around 50 million Euros. Additionally, the Irish Government would have to stump up a further 55 million Euros for the right to host the event, which is expected to take place in 2024.

That’s a significant investment for any country to make on a sporting event, but with an estimated return of up to 500 million Euros, as well as the legacy benefit of rejuvenating two of Cork’s publicly owned sites, it could well be an appealing one politically.

Speaking from Auckland, New Zealand during the November 17 announcement of the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup Emirates team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton confessed that the team had how long negotiating the AC37 venue would take.

“It’s ongoing, it’s not an easy job as we are finding,” Dalton said. “We were too ambitious with September 17, but it has also focussed minds, so it’s bittersweet.”

Without specifically mentioning the three ‘foreign’ bidders believed to be in contention to host the 2024 event – Cork, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and an all of Spain proposal – Dalton appeared confident of doing a deal by the March 31 next year deadline.

Intriguingly though the ETNZ boss clearly remained open to the option of staging an America’s Cup defence in Auckland home waters – as well as dropping in a seemingly throwaway comment about the possibility of there being a previously unanticipated wildcard bid to stage for AC37.

“Maybe there’s one ‘bolter’ that no one knows about – you never know,” Dalton said with a mischievous wink.

Where in the world such a ‘bolter bid’ to host the 37th America’s Cup might come from is impossible to say at this stage. There is, of course, always the chance that as the wily and experienced negotiator that Dalton is known to be, he cunningly dropped that comment in as a tactic to keep the various current bidders on their toes.