Port approves America's Cup agreement

November 30, 2010 3:38:50 PM PST
San Francisco has taken another step forward in its bid to host the next America's Cup. The San Francisco Port Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a resolution supporting a binding agreement between the city and race organizers. That agreement sets the parameters under which the city would host the 34th America's Cup.

There are now two versions of the plan on the table; one calls for the venues to be on the city's central waterfront, covering pier 28 and piers 30-32. Plan 'B' calls for Piers 30-32 and Pier 50.

"This is still a business deal. They still have to be able to get their money out if they put their money in," said San Francisco America's Cup project manager Kyri McClellan. "We consider that the give-get principle. The public is going to be given a huge improvement to its public waterfront in the space that they use, and the team gets in return the opportunity to use those facilities for the America's Cup, but also get a return on what they've invested."

San Francisco is competing with an Italian port city to become the host. It is up to the last race winner, software billionaire Larry Ellison. Under the proposed deal, the city promises to raise $270 million from race sponsors and expects an economic boost to the region of $1.4 billion from weeks of qualifying races leading up to the big day.

A recent analysis from the city's budget analysts questions the rosy projections and estimates the city would end up losing $42 million in uncovered costs. During two hours of public testimony Tuesday morning, the speakers were overwhelmingly in favor of the city hosting the cup.

Concern was expressed by tenants of Pier 50, including Rich Smith, the general manager of Westar Marine Services. His company employs 75 full-time workers. He doesn't want to be displaced by the race, and says if so, the port needs to pay a fair and equitable price for the relocation.

The next step is a public hearing before the board of supervisors on Dec. 8. Race organizers have said they would like to make a decision on the race location by the end of next month.

The race would be held in September 2013.


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