The concept of sailing events driving tourism income for cities that can win bids to host them got a boost on Friday with the announcement that Plymouth, UK, will stage a round of the new America’s Cup World Series. It’s great news for the city, with implications for the UK as a whole when it comes to professional sailing events.
The emergence of venues like Plymouth and the Olympic venue at Weymouth means that Cowes on the Isle of Wight is no longer the only choice for promoters looking to provide sailing entertainment to spectators and deliver returns for sponsors and partners. Perhaps, the decision by the America’s Cup Event Authority will jolt Cowes out of some of the complacency that it seems to suffer from and provoke an investment in facilities for fans, not just participants.
Our invitation to the Plymouth press conference got lost somewhere, so we didn’t get to put our questions directly to the players at the swanky Holiday Inn. But luckily, ACEA got the good folk from the Daily Sail and Bob Fisher to the event, so we know a little more about why Plymouth thinks the staging of an America’s Cup World Series event is such a good thing. Speaking to James Boyd, Anthony Payne, the Acting Chief Executive of Plymouth City Council said:
“We didn’t take this decision lightly. To give you some flavour of the direct, immediate economic impact on this: We know that without even a single visitor coming into Plymouth that it will be a big deal for the local economy. With the teams that will be coming – the whole teams and their back-up teams, 700 people staying in Plymouth for 20 days or over £1.2 million of direct impact. And that is not including the direct spend of all these people – restaurants, etc. We believe that just with the 700 core teams, there will be a direct impact of over £2,000,000 on the city’s economy in that month of September …we can’t guess what the impact will be. But the guys at the America’s Cup have done an economic impact assessment which shows massive returns for host cities. Even if we meet only 20% of that return we estimate that for the month that this is going to happen in the city, there will be a £10 million direct economic impact – that is why we have agreed to go with this.”
Richard Worth got all the ACEA buzzwords into his quote including extra bonus points for “natural amphitheater” – it seems to be one of the main reasons Plymouth got the gig.
Actually it is fair to say there aren’t that many that are better to fulfil the criteria that we need. In one sense it is a perfect venue, because it is a maritime city that understands the sports of sailing. That is key… it has the best sailing stadium you can imagine anywhere in the world. You can stand on the shore as a spectator and see everything. You would be able to see the whole race course and the boats won’t disappear out to sea.”
“Clearly finance is one – it has to be able to pay for itself. You have to be able to find a venue that is spectacular. And we have ticked that box here. You have to think about the weather clearly. Then there are market issues – one of the great things about being in Plymouth that is Plymouth is now going to represent not only the UK but northern Europe. So it is cash, weather, the ability to stage the event at all, market strength – all those things can be balanced to say it is okay to be in that place.”
Perhaps the ACEA felt they had to do something for the UK market to resolve the date clashes caused by Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison having to make the most of their RC44 series and schedule the first America’s Cup World Series race against 2 major UK events. Worth said in a video highlights package:
“We want to embrace the UK market, which is important to us in the America’s Cup cycle.”
More on the date clashes when Cascais have their press conference.
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