More animosity is brewing on the San Francisco waterfront over preparations for next fall’s America’s Cup main event.
Following complaints last week that race organizers aren’t living up to much-discussed labor agreements with The City, America’s Cup officials have now been taken to task by a race competitor over altered plans to provide staging areas just south of the Bay Bridge.
Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker said on his blog that he was notified of a “bombshell” that team bases would no longer be required at Piers 30-32 and that the America’s Cup organizers no longer plan to build basic amenities there, leaving teams to fend for themselves in pricey San Francisco.
After this week’s precursor regatta, preparations will reach full steam for the 2013 finals being put on by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison.
“I am sitting here completely stunned,” Barker wrote. “We are a little over six months from relocating our base to San Fran to what we have been told would be a fully functioning base area complete with team hospitality spaces and full access for the public to watch the teams preparing and launching their boats. It is now going to be a concrete slab with absolutely nothing on it. … We have never budgeted for this and to be dropped on us now is quite unbelievable.”
America’s Cup CEO Stephen Barclay said the New Zealand team is simply trying to “muddy the waters” with a “half-cocked, knee-jerk reaction.”
Later, Barker somewhat retracted his comments.
“It would be fair to say my blog from yesterday created a lot of interest throughout the sailing media,” Barker later wrote. “Next year will be amazing.”
Barclay said the plan all along was to complete the August and October events before making concrete decisions about the finals. Barclay added that the main area of viewing popularity has been near Crissy Field and Marina Green, which is where hospitality areas will now be shifted.
That’s also where local carpentry and signage labor groups allege that race organizers are paying nonunion workers less than the prevailing wage to set up tents and bleachers. Infrastructure work at Piers 30-32 — along with the main public area dubbed the America’s Cup Village at Pier 27 — are being built with union labor.
The complaints have prompted a review by The City’s Office of Labor Standards Enforcement, which determined that workers are making at least San Francisco’s $10.24 minimum hourly wage, but has yet to reveal whether crews are being paid the higher prevailing wage. The contractor in question, Richmond-based Hartmann Studios, has gotten itself into hot water before for events also put on by Ellison and Oracle.
Hartmann officials have not returned calls for comment.
Barclay said he expects The City’s review to conclude that the work has complied with agreements.
“I think you’re going to find Hartmann is going to come out of this looking pretty good,” Barclay said.