Team New Zealand have come under media fire again over the weekend, with revelations that their team base at the Viaduct Events centre was secured for the peppercorn rental of one dollar a year.
Official Information documents outline that the team’s bargain deal is locked in until March 2022, with a maximum lease term for a further five years. Que the outrage and well-rehearsed claims of mates rates and furtive corporate welfare.
But there is nothing fishy or scandalous or inquiry-triggering about this rental deal for the Viaduct Events Centre.
It is not over and above Auckland Council’s contribution to hosting the America’s Cup. It is part of the council’s $113 million dollar package. Rather than building a brand new cup village for all the teams, offering up the events centre as Team New Zealand’s base was seen as a pragmatic way to reduce the cash cost of the council’s contribution.
Now you could argue that for the council’s venues operator to forgo millions of dollars in annual revenue, and extend a bargain lease to Team New Zealand, was far too generous. But that was the deal struck as part of the council’s contribution to the America’s Cup defence.
The critics are lining up to pillory the shrinking returns Auckland stands to gain from the regatta next year. But since when is Team New Zealand responsible for the global pandemic, the border closures, and the collapse in international tourism to this country?
Similarly, the financial crisis Auckland Council now finds itself in, is not of the America’s Cup’s making. Emirates Team New Zealand seems to have become a convenient catch-all whipping boy for other people’s woes.
With the council cash-strapped, I can understand that the Auckland Mayor now wants to kick the home team out of the centre shortly after the Cup defence, and rehouse them elsewhere, in a bid to raise some revenue for the coffers from the events centre. And that’s fine.
But don’t dump on Team New Zealand on this peppercorn rental deal, which was struck in good faith.