Major works would be needed for the port to host the event / Ñito salas

Mayor of Malaga calls on central government to help finance city's 80-million-euro America's Cup bid

The Ministry of Culture and Sport is willing to declare the sailing competition an event in the public interest, but has not mentioned funding

IGNACIO LILLO Malaga

The mayor of Malaga, Francisco de la Torre, is going all-out to obtain support for the city to host the America's Cup in 2024 and yesterday he met Albert Soler, the Ministry of Culture’s director general for sports, in Madrid to try to persuade the government to contribute to funding the prestigious sailing event.

The money is needed to carry out works which would be necessary at the Levante dock, because Malaga Port is owned by the State. An extension would be needed beside the Casa de Botes to build extra facilities for the competing teams and this would cost between 15 and 20 million euros. The mayor was keen to stress that holding the event in Malaga would be beneficial for Spain in terms of tax revenues.

A few days ago the Minister of Culture and Sport, Miquel Iceta, said the government would be willing to classify the America's Cup in Malaga as an event of public interest, as this would provide tax advantages for sponsors, but did not make it clear whether they would be prepared to pay towards the costs.

Malaga and Valencia, which has already hosted the event twice, are the two favourites as the venues for the preliminary regattas next year and the competition itself in 2024, but apart from the fact that time is getting short, the funding is the main sticking point. The total cost would be around 80 million euros.

Malaga has been promised funding from the Junta de Andalucía and the Malaga provincial council, and some companies have expressed an interest in sponsoring the event. There would also be income from the television rights, and several international networks have said they are interested in broadcasting the competition.

The organiser of the 2024 America's Cup, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, wants a final decision to be made about the venue before the end of March. Malaga has just over one month to find out whether or not it can afford to go ahead.