Rhode Island emerges as top candidate for America’s Cup race 

The 34th America’s Cup regatta may sail by San Francisco as negotiations intensify between race organizers and Rhode Island officials to hold the event there instead.

Last week, Mayor Gavin Newsom and the 11 members of the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposed host agreement for the prestigious sailing race to be held in The City in 2013.

While city officials had suggested they might learn as early as last Friday if San Francisco was selected to host the race, they have not.

Furthermore, negotiations have ramped up between Rhode Island officials and billionaire Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing team, sponsored by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, which will select the location of the next event. Italy and Spain also are in the running.

“We are very serious in our intent to move forward with Rhode Island,” Stephen Barclay, an official for the team and the Golden Gate Yacht Club, said in a letter to Rhode Island’s economic development chief. “There is much to do to meet the time frames we have set.”

The letter was released Monday as a team official met with the Rhode Island Economic Development Corp.

A final decision on who will host the cup will be made by Dec. 31, the team said.

The agreement approved by San Francisco went with a northern waterfront location for the race facilities.

Team officials had preferred the initially proposed central waterfront location, which included the development rights to Pier 50. But The City said that plan would require too much taxpayer money.  

“They’ve told us they will make a decision by Dec. 31. We’re confident this is the best plan for the America’s Cup,” Newsom spokesman Tony Winnicker said Monday. “We’ve known this is a competition all along.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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