SF city leaders discuss America's Cup proposal

BMW Oracle Racing owner Larry Ellison, right, helmsman's James Spithill, left, and CEO Russell Coutts, center, raise the trophy after winning the 33rd America's Cup against Alinghi in Valencia, Spain, on Sunday, Feb. 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
October 4, 2010 6:46:15 PM PDT
San Francisco city leaders began discussing a proposal to bring the 34th America's Cup to the Bay Area. They need to get a sales pitch put together very quickly.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison captured this year's America's Cup off the coast of Spain and brought the trophy home to San Francisco. Now this city wants to host the races in 2013.

"The America's Cup would change San Francisco and its face forever. It's a symbiotic transformation and it's a chance to complete the central and southern waterfront and deliver significant near-term economic benefit," project manager Kyri McClellan said.

San Francisco is the only American city in the running and hopes to raise at least $270 million in private funds. Money is needed to shore up crumbling piers, particularly 30-32 and 50.

Architect's sketches depict a spectacular waterfront and environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club and Save the Bay support the vision.

"The actual impact on San Francisco Bay of the sailing races will not be major. It's really important to re-connect people with San Francisco Bay," David Lewis from Save the Bay said.

City officials present a rosy economic forecast -- $1.4 billion for the Bay Area and 9,000 jobs created. But Supervisor Chris Daly says there are hidden costs.

"There's existing tenants and revenue the city will lose and then costs the city will bear and then in terms of dredging," he said.

Ellison and race organizers will be given rent free leases of up to 75 years for exclusive development rights on the piers. This is the city's way of competing against the millions in federal subsidies the rivals, Valencia, Spain and an unnamed Italian city will be able to offer.

For now, Daly seems to be a lone voice because San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and other supervisors support the proposal.

"We are breaking out with the potential of talking about a new industry, and with that kind of industry the prospect of maybe a maritime industry," San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi said.

The full board will vote on the term sheet for the race, which is an unbinding resolution that signals to race organizers the city's intensions.


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