An update on Ireland’s bid to host the prestigious America’s Cup in 2024 was provided at Cabinet this morning by Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney.
He told Ministers Ireland has progressed to the final stage of judging with a final decision due in eight or so weeks. There are only a small number of finalists. Ireland’s bid is understood to be based around Cork Harbour and an assessment team from the organisers visited Cork last month to examine its suitability for the race. They looked at its technical suitability for a racing circuit and examined its tides, wind speeds and direction, water depth, and berthing facilities.
New Zealand is the current holder of the cup (the oldest trophy in sport predating the modern Olympics by 45 years) however the team and the New Zealand government are unlikely to agree terms to stage the next event there for a 4th time so an international competition has been ongoing to win the hosting of the next tournament.
Mr Coveney has been working closely with the Taoiseach and Minister for Sport Catherine Martin on Ireland’s bid to host the 37th America’s cup. The America’s cup is recognised as the 3rd largest sporting event globally after the Football World Cup and the Olympics, in terms of longevity, economic and media impact it delivers to the host venue.
The racing takes place over a period of 3 to 4 months and the teams are based at the host venue for at least 6 months prior to the start of the competition and for as long as 3 years in the build-up period. The cup that concluded on March 17th this year had a global viewership of 940 million and estimates of the value of the race for the New Zealand economy are in the hundreds of millions.
The New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in 2017 forecast between €355 million to €592 million would be injected directly into New Zealand’s economy between 2018 and 2021 as a result of hosting the America’s Cup.
Cork has both history and practicality on its side in this bid. It is 2nd largest natural harbour in the world, with one of the world’s top tourist attractions in the middle and one of Ireland’s top heritage towns. It was the last port of call of the Titanic and 1st port of call of some of world’s top cruise ships. It was a British Naval base until 1938 and is the HQ of the Irish Navy as well as being the port from which over 2.5 million Irish people left to start a new life, mainly in the Americas. Last but far from least it is a marvellous setting with the historic maritime town of Cobh, the fort of Spike Island, the naval base of Haulbowline, the "passage" to the Port of Cork and the historic Camden Fort Meagher dominating the harbour mouth. It is also home to The Royal Cork Yacht Club, the world's oldest yacht club founded in 1720.
The current cup holders Team New Zealand, have not yet decided if the 37th such event in 2024 will take place again in Auckland, NZ. It was recently reported that Team New Zealand began discussions abroad on alternative venues after turning down a bid from their home nation’s government worth NZ$99 million, or some €58.3 million. Ireland has been among several venues explored for the New Zealanders by global sports investment group Origin Sports, headed by Cork-based Stewart Hosford.
Coveney confirmed that Belfast and Dublin had also been assessed initially, but Cork won out in terms of infrastructure and international links – and the fact the city is built on one of the world’s finest natural harbours. The former Cork dockyard, a 44-acre site in Cobh, could provide a race village, and owners Doyle Shipping Group have been very supportive, Coveney said.
The match racing between a “defender” and a “challenger” was first won by a syndicate from the New York Yacht Club in a race against Britain around the Isle of Wight in 1851. The US successfully defended the trophy 24 times until 1983 when Australia secured it, and it was last hosted in Europe by the Spanish port of Valencia.
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