Auckland Council yesterday voted for a cluster of bases in Auckland Harbour over the objections of Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ). The America’s Cup Defenders had argued for an extension option on Halsey Wharf to consolidate the bases, but the Council has decided instead for a cluster of bases in Halsey, Hobson and Wynyard Wharf East as well as other bases on Wynyard Wharf’s western sides that spreads them across the waterfront.

Stuff.nz.co reports that ETNZ withdrew support for its favoured option when it became clear that the key Council members would vote against it.

The council wants the cluster option because it will open up new space on the waterfront for events, as well as setting up Wynyard Wharf as a future public and commercial destination, according to the website. The costs would be about NZ$124m for development, with NZ$18m for infrastructure relocation, and NZ$90m for work in the nearby downtown area.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said the cluster option would encroach less on the harbour than the ETNZ plan and cost about NZ$40m less. It would also take fewer eight months less to build. “It would also allow for a great village atmosphere,” he said during the meeting.

ETNZ had said its plan for a Halsey Wharf extension would “best deliver for the event requirements, for public access and consolidating activities on one location to support the operation of the Village," according to a report submitted to the Council.

After the decision was made, ETNZ said that the new plan would "seriously restrict the ability for the marine industry to benefit from the berthing of superyachts.”

Richard Gladwell, writing in SailWorld-NewZealand.com, said that New Zealand’s marine industry “looks to be the biggest loser” under the new deal. The superyacht berths will be dropping from 24 large berths and eight smaller berths to just eight large berths and eight smaller berths in the Viaduct Basin plan. “At an average spend of $3m per superyacht servicing that is a big capacity reduction--not just for the America's Cup Regatta, but on an ongoing basis,” he wrote. Gladwell also wrote that a likely J Class regatta that had been planned for the America’s Cup would “fall by the wayside.”

“Instead of making an evidence-based decision, politics and a solution acceptable to the lobby groups carried the day,” Gladwell wrote.

ETNZ said that the final plan would need to reincorporate lost superyacht berths inside the event’s perimeter. "We will continue to work constructively with council and government to progress the plans,” said ETNZ in a statement.

The New Zealand government, Auckland Council and ETNZ will negotiate on a final plan before it is due to be officially adopted on December 14.