America's Cup: NZ Govt looks to sponsors to come to Team NZ party

Emirates Team New Zealand welcome home event in Auckland. Minister of Economic development Steven Joyce announces the governments support for the team to continue on to AC35. 4/10/2013
After the Friday media conference was held by Emirates team New Zealand to explain their financial position, and put their reaction to the 35th America's Cup Protocol, the NZ Minister of Economic Development, Steven Joyce, held a separate media conference in Wellington, NZ.

Joyce gave a limited rejection of a proposal by the team for further funding investment by NZ Trade and Enterprise, saying that there would be no more money from the Government until team sponsors came to the party. But he did make the offer of some more immediate money from the Government.

The Minister was clearly of the view that it should be possible for sponsors to inject money into the team, ahead of decisions by America's cup organisers on America's Cup specifics, when these are broadly known.

'I think there is a limit to how far taxpayers should go and my preference is that they get some actual cash from their other commercial sponsors because this cannot be a Government funded challenge,' the Minister said.

The Minister made it clear in subsequent comment that 'I haven't ruled out any cash injection. What i did say was that e put the $5million in last October, which was getting them through to June. The expectation was that they would come up with some other funding in the meantime, and then that we would go forward.

'To be fair to them, they have had some trouble securing the information they need, but we feel at this point they should turn up with some sponsors money as well as taxpayers money.

'I have actually said, without going to my colleagues, is that we would put in an extra couple or so.'

Joyce told Newstalk ZB's Larry Williams that the team had initially come to him looking for another five million, and were told 'to go away and try again'.

'Then Team NZ came back saying they actually need another 12million dollars and we've managed to find private individuals would contribute five of six million, but they still needed another five million from the Government.'

When asked where the sponsor commitment was coming from, the Minister said he had been told the sponsors were not prepared to commit without dates and venues.

'This cannot be a Government funded challenge,' Joyce added. 'But we can be part of it.'

The Minister said that there was an expectation that the taxpayer should be turning up on one basis, and the sponsors on another. 'You talking about well known international brands, in fact world wide brands, who know what the likely venues are going to be. I assume that Team New Zealand have been working hard with these people for seven months. What they need now is a contribution from the sponsors, not the whole thing. That is the way we have approached it with taxpayers. We've put in five and will put a little more in,' he added.

'For the life of me, I can't see why they can't get some sort of contribution from these big international sponsors', Joyce said.

The proposal for additional funding was lodged with NZ Trade and Enterprise a couple of weeks ago.

The Team NZ Board meets in a regular weekly meeting on Monday. It would seem that the high entry fee and performance bond required to be paid by December 1, 2014 are proving to be a significant barrier to the entry of some teams during a period when they are staved for cash and yet to have sponsor funding come online.

In the 34th Cup, the same requirements for high entry fees and bonds were slashed from over $5 million to $100,000, but the move came too late, and only Luna Rossa entered under the reduced entry deal.

By rough calculations, based on the information above from the Minster the team seems to be short by about $3million, or the amount of the Entry Fee and Performance Bonds, which are clearly becoming a barrier to entry - even for strong commercially based teams.