Rhode Island's bid for America’s Cup not ready for deadline

The main rivals of San Francisco in the race to host the America’s Cup say they will not have a bid to hand over to race organizers by the Friday deadline, but city leaders are not declaring victory.

Billionaire Larry Ellison’s yacht racing team, BMW Oracle Racing, has a self-imposed Dec. 31 deadline to choose the next location of the America’s Cup, which it has power to do because the team won the last regatta in February.

San Francisco had emerged as a leading contender to host the international race, but in recent weeks Ellison’s team started a dialog with Rhode Island.
On Wednesday, however, a Rhode Island official said while state officials are continuing to work feverishly on a bid, they will not be able to make the Friday deadline.

The team could theoretically push back the deadline, but it would be difficult, according to sources close to the team. They said it would require an adjustment to the protocol introduced several months ago, which would need to be approved by the racing teams that have already agreed to participate in the 2013 competition.

Tony Winnicker, chief spokesman for Mayor Gavin Newsom, said The City continues to have “very positive discussions with the team to clarify the terms” of The City’s bid, which was approved by the Board of Supervisors two weeks ago.
Newsom has “spoken directly” with Ellison and other team leaders in recent days.

Winnicker said San Francisco’s bid still appears to be the best that has been offered to Ellison and his team.

“We continue to believe that San Francisco is the best place on Earth for the America’s Cup and that no other city has advanced a bid that provides the same guarantees, promise of reward and benefits for the team, the sport of sailing and The City,” Winnicker said.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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