As organizers look elsewhere, SF still wants next America’s Cup

Despite some disparaging comments from Oracle Team USA over the weekend, Mayor Ed Lee remains hopeful that the America’s Cup sailing race will return to San Francisco in 2017.

On Saturday, a story was published by The Associated Press in which Russell Coutts, the CEO of America’s Cup champion Oracle, said talks had begun on whether to take the event to Hawaii or San Diego after San Francisco officials declined to offer the same deal as it did in last summer’s race. Outlined plans for hosting the event in 2017 were presented last month.

“The mayor wants to use the lessons learned from the last America’s Cup event to host an even better event in 2017, and that means a more focused series of races and an agreement that protects San Francisco taxpayers,” mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said when asked to respond to Coutts’ comments. “He believes there is no better place to host these spectacular races than the San Francisco Bay, and we’ll continue to negotiate and hope to reach an agreement.

While the 34th America’s Cup brought billionaire Larry Ellison’s team a September victory — one of the biggest comebacks in sailing history — The City was stuck with about a $5 million bill for the event. That capped years of political and land-use fights that began as far back as 2010. One reason for the shortfall was that a private group failed to raise the money promised to offset city costs.

In the Saturday AP story, Coutts declined to say what specifically he found unacceptable about the 2017 offer.

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