The government is still not sure whether its alternative idea for the Auckland's America's Cup Village is viable, a week out from the start of the planning approval process.
Minister for economic development David Parker said the planning process for Auckland Council's preferred option may begin before he can decide on the merits of an alternative.
Auckland Council is seeking approval to build eight bases across three wharves, but the government was in favour of focusing on the semi-industrial Wynyard Point, to lessen the extension of wharves.
Fuel storage firm Stolthaven has offered to leave its site four years early to enable the government's plan.
Mr Parker has said a costly clean-up of contaminated land might be needed with the government's option - but that those costs could fall to the council whether or not the plan went ahead.
The cost of cleaning up the land, under fuel storage areas on Wynyard Point, has been used by council agency Panuku as one argument against the government's option for the 2021 regatta.
An earlier lengthy court case over nearby land vacated by Mobil left the council liable for a $50m clean-up bill.
When asked if the public might have to foot the bill regardless of when or why Stolthaven moved, Mr Parker said: "That's correct."
"But I'm not conceding that is the position," he added.
He had no update from a meeting which took place between government officials and Stolthaven to discuss the firm's offer to move out.
It was not clear yet that the plan was achievable, and that decision might not be made before the resource consent process opened on the council plan, he said.
Council officers have argued that timing is critical in the Cup Village project, which needs to be finished by late next year, and that there were too many risks in the government's option.