PREPARATIONS for next summer’s America’s Cup World Series have come under fire amid claims organisers haven’t gained permission over the size of the event site in the city – despite having already issued thousands of tickets for the spectacle.
Portsmouth City Council culture boss Linda Symes said at a public meeting yesterday that event bosses shouldn’t have gone public with a map detailing how the visitor arenas across Southsea Common would look when the authority has yet to agree to their demands.
The organisers said they were going to things more pragmatically. But this could create a them and us situation. Why would you go and have a picnic on the common and go to see something you don’t understand anyway?Senior council source
The council had signed a two-year deal with organisers Team Origin for the use of Southsea Common for the event, featuring Portsmouth-based sailing team Land Rover BAR and Olympian Sir Ben Ainslie.
Yet bosses have decided to change the layout of the event and put on a new pay-to-enter race village around Southsea Castle while making the common a free-to-view area with no restrictions separate to the main event site – a move that still needs approval.
And The News understands the council has big concerns over the proposed layout – and fear visitors to the common will feel alienated while paying customers in the race village and grandstand spectators would be able to enjoy a raft of benefits.
A senior council source said commentary or big screens showing all of the action won’t feature on the common as bosses aren’t putting any money into that area. ‘The organisers said they were going to things more pragmatically,’ they said.
‘But this could create a them and us situation.
‘It’s going to segregate people. If you don’t buy a ticket, you won’t be able to see anything properly.’
Former chairman of Portsmouth Cultural Partnership, Steve Pitt, said residents have concerns. He said: ‘There seems to be some confusion over whether the area between Blue Reef Aquarium and Clarence Pier will be completely open to the public.’
He added: ‘The last thing in the world we need is any problem with the event next year. We want the residents on side and the public to support it. We want it to be a positive thing for the city.’
In a statement Team Origin said: ‘We have a written agreement in principle with Portsmouth City Council for the use of the space which includes the Race Village, based on certain criteria.
‘This agreement enabled tickets to go live on November 10th 2015 and the official 2016 Race Village map to be promoted.’
It added that they are working closely with the council’s event advisory group.