America’s Cup to delight locals, businesses

It probably seems a bit premature to already herald the arrival of 2013. I’ve got my reasons, though. One of the most important events on our horizon right now is the 34th America’s Cup.

Planning for this event has already been under way for more than a year. And so has the public process of checks and balances, inquiry and review, hearings and community meetings. Since day one, The City has undertaken a very open and transparent process to ensure that the public would be heard and any concerns that they have about the event would be addressed.

In mid-December, the San Francisco Planning Commission is holding a hearing to certify the environmental impact report that will allow the events to go forward.

And earlier this month, there was an event in San Francisco that has never been held here before — the Rip Curl Pro Search. Although the scale of the two events is quite different, I found Rip Curl to be almost like a “test case” for the America’s Cup.

As the event drew near, it was interesting to listen to some of the concerns that the local surfing community had about “strangers” invading their homebreak. Those fears appeared to be unfounded, and according to news accounts I read there were some very special moments between the competitors and the Ocean Beach regulars.

The planners behind the Rip Curl competition took extraordinary measures to produce an event that left as low a carbon footprint as possible and minimized waste. America’s Cup has promised to do the same. They fully recognize that San Francisco is home to some of the most innovative environmental initiatives and legislation. And as high as our standards are, they intend to exceed them.

Rip Curl also made connections with local businesses — check out their website www.ripcurl.com, a great introduction to the Outer Sunset. The America’s Cup Event Authority has already announced a local business outreach initiative to ensure that San Francisco businesses benefit from the anticipated economic impact generated by the America’s Cup (f.americascup.com/business).

And there were some stunning moments during the competition, all visible from Ocean Beach as surfing pros rode waves in the six- to eight-foot range. Spectators will be able to watch the America’s Cup competition from points all around the Bay, the world’s most beautiful natural amphitheater.

So, 2013 may seem like a long way off, but right now is the time for action. The America’s Cup will generate an estimated 8,800 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic impact. Let’s not take it for granted, and let’s all do our part to make it possible.

Joe D’Alessandro is president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. He also serves on the California Travel and Tourism Commission and U.S. Travel Association board.

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