PRIME minister David Cameron has today announced Sir Ben Ainslie will receive £7.5m for his America’s Cup base - paving the way for it to be built in Portsmouth.
Sir Ben joined Mr Cameron, city MP Penny Mordaunt, Gosport’s Caroline Dinenage and minister for Portsmouth Michael Fallon in Downing Street this morning for the announcement.
He spoke to the prime minister about his plans, and showed off images of how the base will look when it is built.
After receiving confirmation of the £7.5m of government funding needed to get the project off to a start, Sir Ben told The News Portsmouth would be its home.
He said: ‘A lot of that funding will go towards us being able to build our base in Portsmouth.
‘We are very grateful from the support of the local residents and the council to have the permission to build this base.
‘Now we’re really excited about the future and being able to make a real difference in Portsmouth to operate in Portsmouth and put something back in to the local economy, create jobs, and most importantly for me to try and inspire young people to get into sailing.
‘We’re very excited about this announcement today, about the future, and about being based in Portsmouth.’
The investment from ministers will be supported by an additional £1.4m from Portsmouth City Council.
The headquarters will initially employ about 90 people, with more potential jobs in the supply chain.
It will become the focal point for the design, construction and development of the team’s boats and will also provide sports science and fitness facilities and a visitors’ centre.
Ministers say the project has the potential to bring significant economic and sporting benefits to the UK, particularly for Portsmouth and the wider Solent area.
A recent report on Team New Zealand suggested that its base in Auckland created 1,000 jobs and brought an $88million boost to the local economy.
Upon hearing about the plans, Mr Cameron gave his backing to the project and said: ‘Sir Ben’s project is truly fantastic news for Portsmouth and the Solent.
‘It will not only build on Portsmouth’s global reputation as a centre of marine and maritime excellence but will also deliver a real sporting and economic boost to the UK.
‘It is a great example of our long-term plan - creating jobs as well as opportunities for young people to develop their skills through apprenticeships.
‘This is an exciting and historic challenge and I hope the whole country can get behind Sir Ben’s campaign.’