SF's chances look good to host America's Cup

December 30, 2010 7:42:17 PM PST
We should know within the next 24 hours, if San Francisco will be picked to host the next America's Cup yacht race. There's no guarantee, but if the city is chosen, it could be a billion dollar windfall.

The city was up, then down, now up again in the contest to hold the next America's Cup regatta. The America's Cup holds the potential of a huge financial prize and sources close to the negotiations say San Francisco still has the inside track.

When the cup came home to San Francisco, there were some assumptions made. The Golden Gate Yacht Club's vice commodore thought the cup would reside at the club, but that didn't happen.

"That was one man making an assumption," said Valerie Santori.

Santori runs the youth sailing program at the Golden Gate Yacht Club. She says club members are well aware the cup belongs to Larry Ellison along with the decision of where the races will be held.

She checks the Internet on that fairly often these days saying she does it "two or three times a day...yeah."

Members of the club, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, county supervisors, and anyone else interested have been waiting for Ellison to decide.

And he said on February 20, 2010, he wanted it to be San Francisco. He said back then, "It is a sailing amphitheater unlike any in the world."

As did the Oracle Racing team's CEO. Also back in February, Russell Coutts said, "Fantastic wind, fantastic sea conditions, and the city is not a bad place to be either."

This fall the deal with San Francisco hit a snag over real estate. Ellison wanted Pier 50 just south of the Giants' ball park. The city said it would cost too much and proposed alternative piers closer to the city front, so Ellison's team responded by reopening talks with Newport Rhode Island.

On Wednesday, Newport said it couldn't put a final offer together by the end of the year, which appears to have pushed San Francisco once more into the lead. Kyri McClellan is the city's America's Cup project manager.

"We even today are in communication with the team, so our lawyers and senior members of our team have been in communication with senior members of their team and it really is finalizing some of the nuances in the document," says McClellan.

The deadline for making the venue announcement is Friday, Dec. 31, 2010. Rhode Island thinks they're still in it, but a source close to the negotiations with San Francisco told ABC7, "The City and the negotiating team from the Golden Gate Yacht Club continue to work closely during the holidays to iron out the details on the San Francisco bid," and that "Rhode Island has its own financial issues that might prove insurmountable even with more time to review its offer..."

The America's Cup organizers say a decision will be announced by the end of business day Friday. And at this point both San Francisco and Newport are being considered.


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