French team pulls out of America' Cup


This is a very tough economy in which to sign up sponsors for a yacht race, even the world's biggest yacht race. And in Europe it is even worse so Adelph's announcement on Wednesday was not unexpected, but here at home, we're finding supporters downplaying it.

The announcement of the French team's withdrawal from America's Cup drew this response from America's Cup Event Authority spokesman Sam Singer, "We're sad to not have them compete, but it doesn't really impact the America's Cup which is in 2013."

President of San Francisco's Travel Association Joe D'Alessandro said, "We're disappointed that the French team is not participating, but the bottom line is the final races."

"I think we're still excited about the teams, there are still teams to be announced," said Mayor Ed Lee.

Lee is anticipating that more teams will join the competition before the June deadline. But even if a couple more join, that means there will be six teams instead of the 10 to 12 that were forecast by the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute, when it wrote a report saying the primary driver of economic benefits would be the teams themselves.

"Between the infrastructure and the spending by the teams, it's a good amount of the revenue of the economic benefit of the region," said Sean Randolph from the Bay Area Council's Economic Institute.

So we know the infrastructure spending is going to be $16 to $18 million rather than $80 to $90 million projected. We know the number of teams is going to be half of what was projected. So what impact will there be from the French pulling out?

"You might have fewer people coming from France," said Randolph.

Randolph wouldn't speculate on the impact, but his often quoted report lists a $1.37 billion benefit.

When asked if it is fair for people to still be quoting numbers from his report, Randolph said "Well, I think the real world is that the actual numbers will be lower."

How much lower Randolph couldn't say, but in the world of event marketing, there is a new twist for the America's Cup. Organizers now want to combine this year's World Series races with Fleet Week because of how it'll look on TV.

"People are going to think, 'Wow, I got to get to San Francisco next year when the real thing happens, if that many people are enthusiastic.' They didn't realize that there just in the middle of an air show and in here because of the Italian Festival and because of Fleet Week, but it'll be a very good thing for the television audience," said D'Alessandro.

So they're going to try and fool the television audience into thinking there's a big crowd here to watch the races next fall? There doesn't seem to be any end to the hype around the America's Cup.

On the other hand, the skeptics are looking at what is happening with the downsizing of the event and they say it's a flop, even before it started. The truth is the America's Cup will be to a very great extent, what the people of the Bay Area make it.

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