Officials work to keep America's Cup bid alive after Rhode Island interest

Minor changes are being applied to the agreement between The City and organizers of the 34th America’s Cup regatta to fend off a last-minute effort by Rhode Island officials to host the race.

San Francisco approved a bid to host the world-renowned sailing race on the northern waterfront of The City. In the past week, however, race organizers have openly courted Newport, R.I., to host the event. In response, San Francisco officials were re-examining parts of their bid.

“They seemed dissatisfied with some key components of our bid,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday. “We’ve been working aggressively behind the scenes to address those concerns.”

That meant a late conference call Monday night with representatives from the Golden Gate Yacht Club — sponsors of billionaire Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing team — in which several amendments were made to the agreement. Newsom would not say what specifically changed, but the Board of Supervisors has given the Mayor’s Office the power to make amendments as long as the major components of the agreement remain intact.

“We could clarify intent,” Newsom said. “You could amend language from an administrative perspective. You could organize around some of the key issues within the spirit of what was passed by the board.”

The current agreement will expire Dec. 31 if race organizers do not confirm San Francisco as the host city. Race organizers set the deadline in order to allow racing teams time to enter the competition and woo sponsors.

But with the resurgence of a new candidate to host the race, Newsom said he was unsure if the organizers would stick to the year-end deadline. Rhode Island officials are offering a hasty, publicly funded option in
Narragansett Bay.

“Our bid’s being shopped. We know that,” Newsom said. “Does that make me happy? Of course not. But that doesn’t make me pessimistic.”

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsGavin NewsomLocalSan Francisco

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