Back in September, Russell Coutts announced that the venue for the America’s Cup would be announced on the 31st of December 2010. For 4 months, we have waited while BMW ORACLE and the Golden Gate Yacht Club negotiated with San Francisco, using ‘competitive’ bids from Newport, Italy and the Middle East to get the best deal. As the year and the decade ended, the powers that will organise the 34th America’s Cup announced that the host city would in fact be San Francisco.
It’s the right decision. San Francisco has everything that a city hosting the America’s Cup needs to put on a great show – from the geography and weather conditions to access to capital and a large potential fanbase. For the Golden Gate Yacht Club to host the event anywhere else, purely on a financial equation would have seemed greedy.
If the America’s Cup Event Authority can get it right, then sailing could become a proper, professional, spectator sport in the USA. It is unlikely that this could be possible in Newport or the other cities rumoured to be in the running to host the event.
Whether or not there was ever serious challenges from other cities, we will probably never know. San Francisco had to be pressured to thinking that the Cup would not be races as a given and BMW ORACLE had to get the best deal, but there is a sense that it would have been better for the Cup if the venue had been announced earlier – without the brinkmanship. 2013 is not that far away, and to give the teams sponsors and the city the best chance of delivering some thing special, an extra 3 or 4 months could make all the difference.
Getting the news out on the 31st of December wasn’t the greatest communications idea in the history of the America’s Cup. The sailing journalists were in Barcelona, and the American and Californian public had other things on their mind. The ‘cut-and-paste’ media put the release verbatim into their content management systems and didn’t give it too much thought. Compare and contrast that with the celebrations in a host city of winning the right to host the Olympics or Soccer World Cup.
The America’s Cup Event Authority release had some well chosen words from the key players.
San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom said:
“Today is one of great celebration, with San Francisco winning the right to host the America’s Cup, and all of the economic benefit, jobs and excitement that comes with it. San Francisco is the best place on Earth to host an event of this stature, and we could not be more proud to be the city that brings the America’s Cup back home to the United States.”
Due to the multi-year format of the event, which forces teams to relocate to the host city, un-named independent studies argue that the America’s Cup delivers the third largest economic impact in sport to host countries, behind the Olympic Games and soccer’s World Cup. The 34th America’s Cup is projected to pump an estimated $1.4 billion dollars into the San Francisco region.
Paul Cayard, CEO of Sweden’s Artemis Racing, and key player in the enigmatic WSTA added:
“As a native San Franciscan, I grew up sailing in front of the City. Racing for the America’s Cup in San Francisco is something I have dreamt of my whole life. By hosting sailing’s most important event in the Bay, the world will see sailing as it never has before. As a team, Artemis Racing is particularly looking forward to competing in San Francisco.”
The organisers have set themselves massive goals. While the recent Soccer World Cup in South Africa is predicted to have brought 370,000 inbound tourists, the America’s Cup Event Authority is looking for “an influx of millions of tourists is expected for the Challenger Series for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup Finals in late 2013.”
The Race Village will be constructed on Piers 19 and 29, with the team bases at and around Pier 30/32. As part of the plan, the America’s Cup Event Authority will redevelop these piers as well as the surrounding infrastructure to support the racing, while rehabilitating the piers for the enjoyment of generations of San Franciscans to come.
With any luck, the business of yacht racing can now get on with it. Teams can go to sponsors with some concrete opportunities that focus specifically on the Bay area and an American audience.
More America’s Cup News.