S.F. makes pitch to host the America's Cup races in 2017 

click to enlarge America's Cup races in San Francisco
  • Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
  • Oracle Team USA skippered by James Spithill in action against Emirates Team New Zealand skippered by Dean Barker during race 19 of the America's Cup Finals on September 25, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Oracle Team USA won the race to win the America's Cup.

San Francisco isn't done with the America's Cup.

With the Champagne that soaked Oracle CEO Larry Ellison's Cup champion team in the fall barely dry, city officials are presenting new plans for the next showing of sailing's most prestigious championship in 2017.

In a letter sent Monday to the America's Cup Event Authority -- which has the right to choose the venue and hammer out the accompanying agreement with the host city -- Mayor Ed Lee acknowledged lessons learned from this year's event but expressed "great enthusiasm" for keeping the race in The City.

For the 34th America's Cup, which Ellison's team won in September following one of the biggest comebacks in sailing history, the planning process -- and political and land-use fights -- began in 2010.

Initial estimates for spectator attendance and economic benefits were drastically scaled back, and a challenging and costly boat design -- also selected by Ellison -- cut the field of competitors to four. After a private fundraising effort spearheaded by Recreation and Park Commission President Mark Buell fell short, the races ended up costing city taxpayers about $5.5 million.

Lee is "still making calls" to potential donors to ask them to contribute toward that bill, he said Monday.

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute said the race and its public activities did, however, generate $550 million in economic activity and roughly $6.6 million in tax revenue.

Among the changes the mayor suggested to eliminate any future costs to taxpayers are more races within a shorter period of time.

To consolidate the event in a public place, Lee also proposed basing racing syndicates at an "America's Cup Park" set up at Piers 27-29 rather than at the remote Pier 80. The City's new cruise ship terminal, built as part of the waterfront upgrades to prepare for this year's Cup, is located at Piers 27-29.

As before, spectator seating would be based at Marina Green.

Cup officials were receptive to Lee's pitch but any effort to return the Cup to San Francisco -- which race officials described as a "fantastic venue" for sailing -- is likely to have some foul-weather friends.

"I hope they learned some lessons and won't soak the taxpayers this time," said former Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin, who was a vocal critic of the Cup.

After "two to three months of negotiations," Lee expects to hear a "very positive" response from Cup officials about the next event, he told reporters Monday.

About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts

Bio:
Chris Roberts has worked as a reporter in San Francisco since 2008, with an emphasis on city governance and politics, The City’s neighborhoods, race, poverty and the drug war.
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