Concerns about funding 'a niche sport' may rule Ireland out of hosting America's Cup

The Irish Examiner has learned that the government in recent days requested more time to consider the costs and potential financial benefits
Concerns about funding 'a niche sport' may rule Ireland out of hosting America's Cup

A formal announcement is expected from New Zealand later this evening when the race organisers are expected to announce their preferred bidder. Picture: Gilles Martin-Raget / AFP

Ireland is expected to be ruled out of the running this evening to host the 2024 America’s Cup event.

It follows high-level contacts between senior representatives of the government here and the race authorities in New Zealand over the last 48 hours.

A formal announcement is expected from New Zealand later this evening when the race organisers are expected to announce their preferred bidder.

And while Ireland was widely expected to be named the preferred bidder, with Cork as the host city, ahead of bids from Spain and Saudi Arabia, Ireland is now no longer in the running.

A cost benefit analysis conducted for the government here showed that while the State was facing costs of up to €150m to stage the event, it could potentially generate an estimated €500m for the economy, attract up to 2.5 million visitors and create thousands of jobs.

But The Irish Examiner has learned that the government in recent days requested more time - with some suggesting they asked for another six months - to consider the costs and potential financial benefits.

Sources said there appeared to be no political will to back the event.

A government source said that a collective decision was made by the coalition leaders on Tuesday night "not to say no" to the bid, but it was accepted that more time is needed to assess Ireland's capabilities.

The Department will ask the event's organisers for more time to do due diligence. It is understood that concern has been raised about whether the event would cost money rather than bring it in and about the optics of funding a niche sport when more popular sports have highlighted deficiencies in their funding streams.

Tonight’s announcement from race organisers in New Zealand will trigger a six to eight-week period during which they will enter into negotiations with their preferred bidder.

If a deal is not concluded during that time the race organisers can return to the other bidders and re-enter negotiations with them.

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