Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney faces growing resistance in the Coalition to the State making a formal bid to host the 2024 America’s Cup yacht race in Cork.
Mr Coveney has championed the project, arguing the race is third only to the Olympics and soccer World Cup in terms of scale for host countries.
There is uncertainty over the potential returns from a major State investment in an elite event, at a time when many other sports remain underfunded.
A report for the Government by consultants EY projects €150 million in costs and potential economic benefits of €400 million-€500 million, but there is scepticism among some politicians about the prospect of such gains being realised.
Although supporters of the bid have claimed the event could attract as many as 900 million TV viewers, a recent New Zealand analysis of the last race put the dedicated global audience at 68.2 million.
Supporters hope that Cork will be declared by race organisers this week as the “preferred bidder” to host the contest for the oldest trophy in international sport. Such a move would trigger a negotiation in which the organisers would seek firm funding commitments from the Government.
However, people familiar with talks in the Coalition said there will be no decision on whether to proceed until a due diligence analysis of the EY projections is complete.
Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath said on Monday that the race organisers had sought “an upfront payment to advance the process” but didn’t quantify the sum. That question would be considered along with other factors such as the potential benefits when the bid comes before Cabinet, he said.