Private funding key to The City's America’s Cup bid

In an effort to win the race to host the next America’s Cup sailing event, San Francisco is offering free land and promising to raise $270 million from private donations and sponsorships to help pay for production of the event.

The next America’s Cup will be held in 2013, yet the location will not be announced until the end of the year, according to leaders of BMW Oracle Racing. The team — backed by Oracle CEO and billionaire Larry Ellison — won the race in February and has the right to determine the date and location for the next event. San Francisco, Valencia, Spain, and a site in Italy are in the running.

San Francisco is facing tough competition from the other locations, which are offering major public subsidies that could potentially be in the hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a memo from the Mayor’s Office. The competition to host the prestigious event is stiff because the regatta is expected to produce more than a billion dollars in revenue for the host.

In an attempt to capture the race, Mayor Gavin Newsom on Tuesday outlined the framework for a financial and land agreement between the America’s Cup team — comprised of BMW Oracle Racing and the Golden Gate Yacht Club — and San Francisco.

Instead of any large public subsidies, San Francisco is instead offering to hand over three properties on the southern waterfront — Piers 30-32, Pier 50 and seawall lot 330, which sit along The Embarcadero just south of the Bay Bridge — for free. In addition, the America’s Cup team would have long-term development rights.

In exchange, the team would shell out the $150 million in structural improvements that are needed immediately on the crumbling piers, including the replacement of concrete posts that hold the deck, seismic upgrades and rehabilitating the deck.

The long-term development of the three sites would be given to the Event Authority, the business arm of the America’s Cup. San Francisco is proposing a deal that would give the authority future taxes generated from the sites to offset the upfront improvements, according to the resolution.

Along with the free land to host the sailing race, San Francisco promised to work with local civic leaders and businesses to raise $270 million in corporate sponsorship, at the request of the team, said Kyri McClellan, project manager with the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. The money would go toward producing the event.

An honorary committee of the America’s Cup Organizing Committee, which includes powerful politicians from across the nation, will look to help advocate and leverage those dollars.

Bid for race gains clout of politicians

Republicans and Democrats from across California have set aside political differences to help bring the America’s Cup to San Francisco.

The group of lawmakers — the Honorary Committee of the America’s Cup Organizing Committee — includes Mayor Gavin Newsom, Supervisor David Chiu, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Gov. Gray Davis — will operate akin to a team cheerleader. They will advocate, inform and help plan as needed.

In addition, officials from across the United States have agreed to join the Honorary Committee, including Newport, R.I., Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster.

“Getting Democrats and Republicans to support something together in this election season is a great feat,” Schwarzenegger said. “We can all agree that this would be a huge boost for the state of California and the America’s Cup event itself.”

Later this week, the America’s Cup Organizing Committee will announce its membership — a group of civic and business leaders from across the nation who will help tap corporate sponsors for the event.

“The ACOC Honorary Committee members continue to show race organizers that we are serious about this race coming to California,” Newsom said. “With more than a billion dollars of economic activity projected for the state of California if the race moves forward, this competition would be a tremendous development for the people of this state.”

Timeline to the regatta

What San Francisco needs to complete in order to secure the America’s Cup sailing race:

October 2010-October 2011
*Complete studies and documentation for environmental review and permitting
*Finalize terms of long-term leases

November 2011
*Present environmental review documentation, permits and long-term lease for approval

December 2011-December 2012
*Complete infrastructure improvements

Spring 2013
*Hold event

Source: Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development

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