The independent assessment commissioned by the former One Bermuda Alliance government, to explore the economic impact of the 35th America’s Cup on Bermuda, is due to go to Cabinet within a matter of weeks, before the report is released to the public by, or before the end of this month.

Bermuda Real understands that the independent study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) Limited, to assess the economic and social impact of hosting AC35 in Bermuda’s Great Sound, is due to be released this month.

But it will be reviewed by the new Progressive Labour Party Cabinet first, which is reportedly likely to happen within a matter of weeks, possibly as soon as this coming Tuesday.

The report was commissioned by the ACBDA in January, to collect information from the participating AC teams and event organisers on their personal and business on-island spending, to measure how the AC impacted the island and which sectors benefited.

Former Minister of Economic Development Dr Grant Gibbons

Just prior to the July 18th General Election, then Minister of Economic Development, Dr Grant Gibbons said the independent assessment was due for completion by October.

According to Dr Gibbons, hosting “an event of this magnitude”, would leave Bermuda in an “excellent” position to host similar large international sport events, moving forward after the 35th America’s Cup.

Just before the 4th of July US holiday weekend, he said the participating teams were due to leave the island by the end of July, leaving Cross Island vacant and clear by the end of September.

The former Minister also said the economic impact report will cover the social and environmental impact of hosting AC35, which he said was comparable to previous studies compiled by other AC host venues, like San Francisco and New Zealand. Additionally, he said the ACBDA  will produce a report by September that details their work, describing how AC35 was delivered. He also noted that the ACBDA would “wind down by the end of the calendar year”. Since then, the new government administration has proceeded with plans to transform the ACBDA into the Bermuda Event Authority (BEA).

The former Minister also noted that the island won “extraordinary visibility on the world stage”, and that more details about Bermuda’s media exposure would be released as part of the final assessment report. More than 100,000 people visited the  AC Village over 22 days, with 62,315 booked tickets sold for the special AC ferries. Some 2,000 boats were also registered as spectator crafts.

In all, he said: “Bermuda hosted over 460 visiting boats, with over 80 of them superyachts.” Based on the positive feedback, he said a long-term superyacht policy and legislative framework was also under development.

Dr Gibbons also stated that more than 30 small businesses were beneficiaries, including some new businesses, that saw “huge” food and beverage sales, that also generated interest in hosting more regattas in Bermuda.

Bermuda Real Photo: Cross Island, Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Apart from the overall economic impact, he said the Endeavour Sailing Programme was subsequently funded privately through to 2018. And the future of the Red Bull AC Youth championship is still up for discussion moving forward.

Soon after the announcement that Bermuda would be hosting AC35, the public was invited to help shape future plans on what would become of Cross Island after the race series.

The nine acres of reclaimed land was created as the Event Village by the West End Development Corporation. In June 2016, ACBDA Chief Executive Mike Winfield billed it as a huge opportunity to generate “out of the box” ideas for its future use. One month later, then Chairman of the Cross Island Legacy Committee, Wayne Caines said more than 180 online submissions had been received.  But he said the committee was hoping to reach 200. The committee, was aided by Deloitte via Wedco, to consult with the public over the proposed plans.

Mr Caines stated that he got involved with this committee “because this area of land represents a genuine opportunity to create a legacy for Bermuda”.

“We must have had at least 50 people suggesting a water park, but that does not mean it will be among our recommendations to Wedco,” he said. “The committee has a meeting soon after the deadline has passed when we will start the process of making recommendations on the use to Wedco,” he added.

He noted that the ideas will be scored against a series of objectives:

  • Economic – it provides economic benefits to Bermuda
  • Environmental – that it is sensitive to the environment, surrounding historical significance, and marine habitats
  • Financial – that it delivers a good return on investment for Bermuda
  • Social/Cultural – whether it is connected to Bermuda’s heritage and culture and provides social benefits to Bermuda
  • Structural – that it is a good fit for the location, physical site, and exposure to weather and elements

By August 2016, Cross Island ideas had swelled to more than 300 on how to use the reclaimed land at the Royal Naval Dockyard. Since then, there has been a change of government, and at last check no final decision on the future use of Cross Island had been written in stone, or elsewhere.

To date, there has been no official word yet on what’s to become of Cross Island. Eventually, time will tell. But in the interim, in just a short period of time, the pending report on hosting AC35 in Bermuda’s Great Sound, will tell all on the dollars and cents, or sense of it  all, at the taxpayers expense.

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