America's Cup organizers confirm San Francisco has won bid for race

Getty Images file photo

Getty Images file photo

San Francisco has won the hard-fought bid to host sailing’s most prestigious race, the America’s Cup, the yacht race organizers have announced.

The announcement that San Francisco ‘s proposal topped other interested locations, such as Rhode Island and Italy, came after months of negotiations  that included debates over tax breaks, land rights and the future development of San Francisco’s piers.

Billionaire Larry Ellison’s team, BMW-Oracle Racing which is based at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, won the last America’s Cup race in February.  With the cup came  the right to determine all of the specifics for the next race, expected to be held in 2013,  including the location.

Though race organizers had been in discussions recently with Rhode Island over an alternate, it became increasingly clear in recent days that San Francisco would win the opportunity to host, as Rhode Island officials said they would not be able to endorse a bid in time for the team’s self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline.

The race could draw hundreds of thousands of people to the Bay Area to watch the international race, which lays claim to the oldest trophy in modern sports. Some economic analyses have estimated the race could bring the Bay Area over $1 billion in tourism and team-related money.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, whose staff worked through the winter holidays to negotiate the final details of the bid, said the selection represents a “tremendous opportunity to showcase sailing in the magnificent amphitheater of San Francisco Bay.”

“The selection of San Francisco today to host the 34th America’s Cup marks the beginning of an extraordinary new chapter for our city and for the sport of sailing,” he said in an emailed statement.

Though sources close to the negotiations had confirmed to the San Francisco Examiner that the bid was a done deal early in the day, America’s Cup officials waited until late afternoon on New Years Eve to break the news officially.

“We sought a venue that fulfills our promise – to showcase the best sailors in the world competing on the fastest boats,” said Richard Worth, Chairman of America’s Cup Event Authority in an emailed statement. “And hosting the America’s Cup in San Francisco will realize that promise.“

The deal to bring the cup to San Francisco will likely make Ellison an even richer man, as The City has offered his team long-term development rights to acres of waterfront property, in exchange for bringing the race to the San Francisco Bay. Though Ellision’s team must make an initial investment into the waterfront, The City will pay that investment back in the form of free rent for decades.

San Francisco has also offered Ellison millions in city services to support the 2013 race.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGavin NewsomLocalSan Francisco

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