Speaking at the Land Rover BAR base in Old Portsmouth this week, Sir Keith Mills told Team Locals that the rest of the world will be looking to Portsmouth to set the standard for the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS).
2015’s debut event in the city attracted around 250,000 spectators over four days, and Sir Keith is confident that this year’s ACWS will see larger numbers still.
Sir Keith also highlighted the special atmosphere created at the America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth, especially on Super Saturday when Southsea seafront was rammed with revellers looking to cheer on the teams fighting for points in the Solent.
“Portsmouth’s event had the biggest amount of spectators both on and off the water, and created the sort of atmosphere that all the teams in all the countries around the world will be trying to emulate, and that’s why all eyes will be on the city in 2016.
“We’re really proud to have brought the America’s Cup World Series to Portsmouth. The impact of a world-class event on a city and a country, as I’ve seen with my Olympic work in the past, is huge, and I’m confident that it can have a really positive effect on Portsmouth.”
Team Land Rover BAR currently sit in third place after a win in the last series held in Oman — just one point off second-placed Oracle Team USA and seven points off first-placed Emirates Team New Zealand.
The British crowds will once again look to cheer Sir Ben and his team to victory in this year’s Portsmouth series in the hope that it will boost his points tally ahead of the all-important battle in Bermuda which could see the America’s Cup proper being held in Portsmouth. Sir Keith was quick to enforce his desire to bring the main event to the UK and to the south coast city.
“If we win the America’s Cup next year (and that is the intention!) then we’d love to bring the event to Portsmouth. There’s an awful lot of work that will need to be done in collaboration with the council here to try and find a permanent home for the event and over the coming months we’ll be working with everyone involved to try and make it happen.”
The impact of an event on a city’s economy isn’t always immediately visible to the local community but Sir Keith Mills is sure that the benefits and wider-reaching global media attention will help to bolster Portsmouth’s standing even further over the coming years. In addition to revenue generated by Land Rover BAR’s operations in the city, Portsmouth will see economic dividends from associated industry operations, the many businesses directly and indirectly involved, and from a much wider supply chain that supports the event.
“I was involved in bidding for and then organising the London Olympics and I saw first-hand the impact that a sporting event can have on a city. In this case it was East London, and the social and economic benefit from that will be felt for many years to come.
“Likewise, if when we pick up the cup next year, and we’re the host for the next America’s Cup, the impact that has on the city will be fundamental. It will attract a large number of businesses, it will attract a large number of spectators, and this can only be a good thing for a city that has been in need of regeneration due to the downturn in shipbuilding. A city like Portsmouth needs as much inward injection of capital as possible.”
This year’s America’s Cup World Series event will have a new look, including a downsized, compacted Race Village around the Southsea Bandstand and Castle Field areas of the seafront, leaving the main span of Southsea Common open and unobstructed for spectators to enjoy views of the action as it unfolds, and no high fencing which was controversially erected in 2015.
Sir Keith stated that he will be doing his best to bring big screens to Southsea Common for the public, streaming the racing action as it is captured by BT Sport out on the Solent.
“It’s something we are discussing with the council right now, but as always it is down to planning and health and safety issues to get the plan approved.”