San Francisco rolls out red carpet for cup announcement

San Francisco rolls out red carpet for cup announcement

January 5, 2011 7:22:18 PM PST
San Francisco is celebrating sailing on Wednesday night with a public party over the America's Cup race that's coming to the city.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and soon to be departing Mayor Gavin Newsom hosted the event at City Hall late in the afternoon and it is the races that everyone is cheering about. Teams are coming from around the world to spend months racing in San Francisco Bay and bringing with them the promise of a financial windfall.

Newsom told Ellison that when the cup came to San Francisco last February, Newsom didn't really understand would it would mean to have the races here as well.

"We're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars that are going to be invested in the city and county of San Francisco, a billion dollars of economic activity," said Newsom.

For his part, Ellison talked about making it the biggest show in the cup's 160 year history.

"There will be the greatest sailing teams in the world. I can see Paul Cayard in the audience and it will be sailors of that caliber, the best sailors in the world sailing the fastest boats in the world, in the most extraordinary place to hold a sail boat race," said Ellison.

Ellison told the audience 14 to 16 teams will come to San Francisco and certainly one keys to the financial success for the city is how many teams show up. Right now, there are five, about half the number that showed up in San Diego.

In Valencia the economic impact was 2 billion Euros, but the head of the Swedish team Artemis Racing says don't count on that big of a payoff here.

"The format's a little different, I have to be honest because what happened in Valencia is the teams moved there for a three year period and there were 10 teams and you know it's a little different story," said Cayard.

Cayard believes there will be somewhere between six and eight teams in San Francisco and that the America's Cup is more of a development deal, a chance for the city to develop bay front piers that have been underutilized and in need of repair. At the post celebration news conference, Ellison insisted more teams are coming.

"We know of about five more that I think will be entering shortly, but you know, we're hopeful that... there are a bunch of countries that are very, very interested in helping get the Chinese here, the Japanese here, but over the next 12 months, I think we're going to have more entries," said Ellison.

If the race does get more teams over the next 12 months, they are going to have to change the rules because the entry period which began Nov. 1, ends at the end of March.