In just four months, Barcelona raised, managed and achieved the goal. It all started as a suggestion, a possibility, a what if? And it turned out yes. That the private sector and public administrations (all of them) agreed with the organizers of the America’s Cup, the Emirates Team New Zealand, the holders of the oldest trophy in the world. On March 29, the choice of the Catalan capital as the venue for the 37th edition of the historic regatta, which will be held in autumn 2024, was made official on the terrace of the World Trade Center.
It was the culmination of a process that formally began on December 10, 2021, the date of the document that Emirates Team New Zealand sent to Barcelona&Partners, Barcelona Global’s investment attraction agency. With these two entities as protagonists, a story begins that will incorporate actors. Each role has been decisive.
On March 29, the choice of the Catalan capital as the venue for the 37th edition of the historic regatta was made official on the terrace of the World Trade Center
In the letter, the organizers promised to “support” the Barcelona option. “The city is one of the most prestigious in the world organizing events on a global scale. Barcelona organized the JJ.OO. of 1992, recognized by many as the best in the history of the sport. Hosting the 37th edition of the America’s Cup would give Barcelona the status of the only city to host two of the world’s biggest sporting events,” the Emirates Team New Zealand CEO said in writing.
That statement of intent from the team headed by Grant Dalton, a true sailing legend, was a valuable endorsement. Emirates Team New Zealand, winner of the last two editions – 2017 in Bermuda and 2021 in Auckland (New Zealand) – had been looking for a venue for ten months. The last edition, highly conditioned by the pandemic, accumulated a significant deficit, a determining factor, together with the insufficiency of the aid promised by the New Zealand authorities, for the champions to look for another port. Yida (in Saudi Arabia) and Cork (Ireland) were finalists, but neither one was completely convincing, and the decision, which had to be made after the summer, was postponed.
The name of Barcelona emerged from the sports environment. Among the New Zealand team the possibility excited. The memory of the city was pleasant: at the 1992 Olympic Games, New Zealand emerged, with four medals, as a world power in the sport of sailing. The possibility was taking shape. Dalton contacted sailors who had connections with Barcelona, such as Guillermo Altadill. The proposal came to Barcelona Global from the hand of another sailor and businessman, Daniel Puig.
In the New Zealand team the idea of Barcelona excited; the memory was pleasant: in 1992 they won 4 olympic medals
In December complicities are woven. At the heart of the negotiations were Grant Dalton, Stewart Hostjord (CEO of Origin, the company to which Emirates Team New Zealand delegated the search for the headquarters) and, for Barcelona Global, its president, Aurora Catà, Ángel García and Mateu Hernandez. This entity put together the candidacy on three fronts: organizers, administrations and the business sector to also ensure their contribution.
At the end of last year, at a business dinner, Puig presented the opportunity to the president of the Generalitat. Ahead. In February the meetings take place… and Malaga signed up for the race. Time was pressing. In mid-March, Barcelona&Partners obtained the subscription, by private promoters, of guarantees of up to 25 million euros. The Generalitat had committed 15 million, another 15 the State and 10 the City Council. This is the offer that is on the table – it is five million behind that of Malaga – when, on March 17, Grant Dalton lands in Barcelona.
Enthusiasm, placing the city once again in the world spotlight and the expected economic activity were some of the ingredients that have worked this small (or big) miracle
The visit of the heads of Emirates Team New Zealand is a success. The work done by the port, with its president, Damià Calvet, and general director, José Alberto Carbonell, seduced the organizing team and improved the initial proposal, inspired by the one from 2004, when Barcelona opted for the America’s Cup, which The final was held in Valencia.
“It’s a port and it’s a city, that’s what we were looking for,” Grant Dalton would later say. After the visit, more meetings. In the same port, in Palau, with the minister Roger Torrent and then Pere Aragonès, and also in the City Hall, where Grant meets the mayor. That afternoon, Ada Colau made public her total conviction. Everything was totally tied that weekend in which, through Barcelona Turisme and the Diputación, they were able to commit five million more and thus reach the final 70 million.
The enthusiasm of some, putting the city back in the world spotlight and the expected economic activity were some of the ingredients that have worked this small (or big) miracle. The first achievement came before the start: the image of harmony and complicity between public administrations and the private sector.