America’s Cup boss Sir Keith Mills vows to solve Portsmouth event’s problems

Sir Keith Mills, co-founder of Team Origin events and chairman of the World Series Portsmouth, left, and Dr Harvey Schiller, commercial commissioner of the America's Cup, with the America's Cup trophy ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151240-203)
Sir Keith Mills, co-founder of Team Origin events and chairman of the World Series Portsmouth, left, and Dr Harvey Schiller, commercial commissioner of the America's Cup, with the America's Cup trophy ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (151240-203)
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  • America’s Cup World Series event chairman admits ticketing plus food and drinks policy needs a overhaul
  • More covered spectator areas could be built to prevent weather affecting visitor numbers
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WE WILL do all we can to get everything right for next year’s America’s Cup in Portsmouth.

That’s the vow of the man in charge of the World Series in the city as his team prepares a package of improvements ready for Portsmouth hosts the sailing regatta again next year.

With the security teams and their approach to food and drink coming into the venues, they were told to make sure people didn’t bring in crates of beer, and they took it to the extreme.

America’s Cup World Series event chairman Sir Keith Mills

Despite the success of this summer’s sailing spectacle featuring Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie, who has set up base in Portsmouth, there were concerns over the way parts of the event were organised.

That included people being allowed into the Portsmouth Live! music concert for free, much to the anger of some ticket holders, and others being told they could not bring in food and drink.

World Series chairman Sir Keith Mills admitted to The News he thought the ticketing structure was ‘too complex’ and security staff were wrong to be so strict on spectators bringing food and drink on to Southsea Common.

He has vowed to make access much simpler and relax the laws imposed on visitors.

The proposed changes for next year’s regatta include:

n More seating, grandstand and covered spectator areas to stop the weather causing people to be put off.

n Increasing the entertainment on offer to include more on and off-shore sporting action as well as music.

n More spectator boats for people who want to watch races from the water.

n Extra qualifying races and delaying racing by a day if the weather turns bad like this year.

Sir Keith said: ‘The ticketing was probably too complex, and we will find a simpler structure next time.

‘We were ticketing the free arena, as well as ticketing the paid arena, and then there were separate tickets for the concerts. It was a multi-layered ticketing structure.

‘With the security teams and their approach to food and drink coming into the venues, they were told to make sure people didn’t bring in crates of beer, and they took it to the extreme. These are all very simple issues which can be addressed for next time.’

Yet Sir Keith stood by the decision to offer free tickets to the World Series Portsmouth Live! concert to those who had paid to attend the South Coast Proms on the Friday night, which was scrapped due to poor weather.

The man behind the 2012 London Olympics said: ‘We have responded to every concern and tried to put right what people think was wrong.

‘It was the right strategy. The weather was terrible, and it didn’t make much sense to have people standing in the pouring rain for a concert.

He added: ‘Like with any major event, you can never please all the people all the time, and actually we have 10 or 20 times as many really positive letters and emails from people saying what an amazing event, compared to those who were unhappy for some reason.’

Sir Keith promised next year, which marks a year before the cup finals in Bermuda, will be even more special.

He said: ‘From our perspective, we want next year to be twice as successful as this year – and the weather will help that. The potential Portsmouth has to host big events like this is amazing.’