Bid for America's Cup hits rough waters

A wind of enthusiasm about the possibility of hosting sailing’s most famous race that has swept through city offices hasn’t proved enough to push The City to meet a deadline imposed by the race organizers.

San Francisco was asked to put together an official bid to host the America’s Cup, and have it approved by the Board of Supervisors by the end of September.

That deadline won’t be met because The City is still negotiating with the team over some sticky issues.

The City wants to host the event because it claims the race could eventually bring more than $1 billion to the Bay Area’s economy. The decision will be made by BMW Oracle Racing team, which is associated with Golden Gate Yacht Club. That team won the America’s Cup in February, and now has the right to decide the date, location, rules and boat specifications for the next race.

The team has announced the event will be held in 2013, following 13 regattas, and be held in a new class of boats that are 72 feet long and are some of the fastest that have ever sailed in the race. All that is left to resolve now is the location.

San Francisco is competing with Valencia, Spain — which has the advantage of an already-constructed infrastructure for the race — and an unnamed city in Italy.

In August, officials from the Mayor’s Office said they’d been asked to complete the application by Sept. 30, and hoped to introduce the bid to the Board of Supervisors in early September. But when September came, the introduction was delayed. Every week since, the introduction has been delayed another week.

America’s Cup project manager Kyri McClellan of the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development said this is because there are still unresolved matters to be negotiated.

“We have a couple of outstanding issues we remain in discussions on,” she said.

Asked what the primary hangups are, she declined to discuss it.

“It’s not really to my advantage to discuss them until they’re resolved,” she said.

Team spokesman Tim Jeffery declined to comment on the delays because negotiations with all three locations are ongoing. But McClellan said the team has been flexible about the deadline.

“Unlike an Olympics bid or something where there’s a governing body and a very rigid and structured bidding process, the team controls all of those elements and we respond,” she said. “[The end of the month] was their deadline, and they understand our timeline, and they will continue to set their deadline.”

Once negotiations with the team are complete, a resolution putting a stamp of approval will be introduced to the board, perhaps this coming Tuesday, though McClellan declined to promise it would happen that soon. If there were no hangups at all, the board would hold a hearing within the week, and approve it the following Tuesday board meeting.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

 

Elite company

In the previous 159 years of the America’s Cup, only six venues have hosted the prestigious sailing event:

  • New York
  • Newport, R.I.
  • Fremantle, Australia
  • San Diego
  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Valencia, Spain

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