6 Mar 2018

Minister's trip may delay America's Cup village decisions

10:08 am on 6 March 2018

A decision on how to build America's Cup bases in Auckland looks set to miss a new target, increasing the risk of critical delays.

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David Parker, who is a key minister in terms of America's Cup planning, will be out of the country for the rest of the week. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The government's key minister David Parker will be out of the country for the rest of the week, with public submissions in the planning process due to close in eight days.

The submission period has already been extended by a fortnight and Auckland Council fears that not having a decision by Wednesday next week, could have a knock-on effect on the project.

RNZ understands there's frustration in Auckland that absences by the minister due to his other commitments, are slowing down the process.

There's been three weeks of official silence since Auckland's mayor Phil Goff, and the Minister for Economic Development Mr Parker changed course on the Cup village plan.

The pair said they favoured a different layout to the one agreed in December between the council and the defender, Team New Zealand, and wanted more bases on land at Wynyard Point.

The December deal involving 75 metre extensions to the Hobson and Halsey Street wharves was already in the planning process, with submissions extended to accommodate any changes.

But with eight days remaining, and three options still on the table, a further extension, may be needed.

Serious consideration is being given to the third option proposed by Team New Zealand, which could be $50 million cheaper than the minister's preference for Wynyard Point.

It would retain the 75 metre wharf extensions - a sore point with Mr Parker - but possibly drop the need for any bases on Wynyard Point, and the expensive relocations needed to allow that.

Last reported, the minister said the option he favoured was $15m cheaper than the $200m council-Team New Zealand plan.

Considerable work on costings has been done since then, with the result unknown.

A spokesman for Mr Parker said the minister would have nothing to say prior to his return on Saturday from signing the CPTPP global trade deal.

Mr Goff's office says no meeting with the minister is scheduled.

Any decision-making on the village is expected to involve agreement between Mr Parker and Mr Goff, followed by negotiations with Team New Zealand, and a final sign-off from an extraordinary meeting of the council.

Three day's notice is required for the council meeting.

Officials in Auckland fear that missing the 14 March deadline could have a domino effect on the project, meaning bases might not be ready as hoped, in the summer of 2019/20 for teams arriving a year ahead of the 2020/21 regatta.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was not too focussed on next Wednesday's deadline for public submissions on the December plan.

"There is still more room for dialogue and to make sure we get the bid right, and that ultimately we're in a position to host the cup," Ms Ardern told RNZ.

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