San Francisco has officially been knocked off the list of candidates to host the next America’s Cup sailing race in 2017, apparently because its proposal put forth in December did not measure up to offers from other locations, Commodore Norbert Bajurin of the Golden Gate Yacht Club told The San Francisco Examiner on Wednesday.
The decision was made official in a letter dated Tuesday to Mayor Ed Lee from Russell Coutts, the CEO of two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA. Coutts confirmed that due to “the tight timeline and demands from prospective teams to confirm the final venue,” the America’s Cup Event Authority has eliminated San Francisco as a prospective host.
Bajurin is a member of the yacht club’s America’s Cup committee. He, along with four other members, including Coutts and Oracle Team USA principal Larry Ellison, are tasked with deciding on the location for the 35th regatta.
“We had to go through leaps and bounds to bring [the race to San Francisco] for 34th Cup,” Bajurin said of last year’s event. “Unfortunately, we’re moving forward … . We got better offers. We have to look at what’s best for everyone in the long run.”
Bajurin said it essentially came down to economics, including commercialism and sponsors.
“At the very end we had to look at the final picture — what was best for not only our team but for all the challengers,” he said.
Holding the race in San Francisco marked an iconic time for the regatta, when Oracle Team USA emerged victorious after one of the biggest comebacks in sailing history.
“There’s no doubt about it, that we don’t even call it the America’s Cup, we call it the San Francisco America’s Cup,” Bajurin said. “It was a wonderful venue. I’d love to see it come back.”
But the regatta came with a hefty price tag for The City, which was stuck with a $6 million tab for the event. The Port of San Francisco also incurred net costs of $5.5 million, according to a February report from the Budget and Legislative Analyst’s Office.
Lee had pledged to find alternate sources of funding for much of the costs, other than public safety and transportation, if The City were to host the next America’s Cup. However, Bajurin said the committee was told funding would have to be found elsewhere for services such as police, fire, garbage and utilities.
Mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey said Lee was disappointed to lose the regatta.
“The mayor’s sorry to see the America’s Cup go,” Falvey said. “He put forward a very strong proposal that included city services and relying on corporate sponsorship to cover event-related costs.”
Three locations — San Diego, Chicago and Bermuda — remain in the running. Holding the Cup in Bermuda would be the first time an American team selected a site outside the U.S.
San Francisco could be considered as a host for the 36th America’s Cup, Coutts said. If Oracle Team USA repeats as champion, it is allowed to choose the next venue again. And there’s a possibility San Francisco could also be involved in some capacity in racing leading up to the 35th regatta.