America’s Cup negotiations end in apparent harmony 

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Once-tumultuous negotiations to bring the America’s Cup yachting event to San Francisco ended with apparent harmony Tuesday, as the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a scaled-down deal to prepare for the regatta.

“This is a solid set of agreements,” said Board President David Chiu, who fought to remove aspects of the deal’s previous iteration, which would have involved the business arm of the race investing $111 million to fix some of The City’s waterfront in exchange for long-term leases and exclusive development rights.

Negotiations turned sour in February over several issues, including conflicts over certain areas of the waterfront, arguments about complying with The City’s local hiring law, and a pending lawsuit over the race’s environmental impact report, which could potentially delay construction.

The City has now agreed to amendments that throw out any long-term development rights and instead has the Port of San Francisco spending $22 million to prepare the waterfront for the race — including $8 million to give racing teams access to Piers 30-32, where upward of $80 million in repairs were originally proposed.

The America’s Cup Event Authority had said that organizers can “live with” the new agreement, although it wasn’t what they were expecting when they reached an initial deal with Mayor Gavin Newsom in late 2010. The authority dismissed half its staff last week because of the downsized deal and sluggish sponsorships, but Tuesday’s decision was welcome news.

“We have worked very hard to bring this historic race to San Francisco and we’re very happy to have finally reached an agreement,” Stephen Barclay, interim CEO of the America’s Cup, said in a statement.

Most of the infrastructure improvements for the race are being touted as also having long term benefits for the Port, including the beginnings of a new cruise terminal at Pier 27 on the northeast waterfront.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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