The projected economic benefits of hosting the America’s Cup sailing race now appear to be significantly lower than promoters once touted when the notion of The City hosting the regatta first surfaced.
Back in 2010, as one of the regatta’s selling points, race supporters cited a report that projected economic benefits as high as $1.4 billion. Tuesday, Mayor Ed Lee said the latest projected benefits, which are detailed in a yet-to-be published report, now hover around $780 million.
Since the waterfront race was first conceptualized, it has changed in scope significantly. An original deal with race organizers for development along the Bay was scaled back. And fewer teams are expected to take part in the final races, which will run for three weeks in September of this year.
Jane Sullivan, The City’s spokeswoman for the America’s Cup, said the benefits are still pretty significant for San Francisco. But she also noted that the downsized race and reduced visitor projections mean that The City will incur lower costs associated with the event — such as for transit, planning and permitting.
A previous estimate was that The City’s costs could reach $32 million, which private fundraising was supposed to help cover. Sullivan said Tuesday that the latest estimate is now “in the low 20s.”
Supervisor John Avalos, who called for a Board of Supervisors hearing today to get an update about the fundraising efforts and discuss local hiring and prevailing wages, said he has concerns despite the lowered cost estimates. The event organizing committee is still behind on fundraising, he said, and if it doesn’t raise enough money to cover the costs, The City could be forced to cut funding for government services.
“I want to make sure The City is doing everything it can to put pressure on the organizing committee to raise money,” Avalos said.
Today’s hearing will be a check-in on the progress, he said.
Lee said raising funds has been important to him.
“I do know that I have been working on, and my focus has been, raising the money from the private sector to cover our costs,” Lee said Tuesday in a brief session with reporters.
Sullivan would not comment on fundraising figures, but said “the fundraising and the costs are coming into alignment.”