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Monday, December 13, 2010

America's Cup: San Francisco's Chances Are Sinking, Thanks to Chris Daly

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 12:01 AM

America's Cup Organizers' Surprise Rejection of Latest Terms All About Securing Pier 50 For Waterfront Arena, Supervisor Says

click to enlarge Chris Daly's tenacity -- and the fiscal studies he demanded -- may have sunk San Francisco's chances at the America's Cup
  • Chris Daly's tenacity -- and the fiscal studies he demanded -- may have sunk San Francisco's chances at the America's Cup
"Worse things happen at sea" will come as cold comfort for San Francisco officials who thought the city was sailing toward a pact to host the 34th America's Cup. Instead, the regatta's organizers abruptly informed the city over the weekend that the deal currently being tweaked is not acceptable -- and if a new one isn't hammered out by Friday, then San Francisco's hopes will be scuttled.

The city's grasp on the cup is in as solid as the Metrodome roof because of Supervisor Chris Daly -- whether you like it or not. He was virtually alone in politicking against the race when it was proposed the city would host it. He tasked the city's Budget Analyst with crunching the numbers on that initial deal -- and it turned out they were awful. That led to a flurry of new deals and revisions, resulting, finally, in the America's Cup Powers That Be saying they would not abide substituting long-term development rights on Piers 26 and 28 for the prize: Pier 50, adjacent to AT&T Park.

Has Chris Daly saved San Francisco from a potential financial disaster and massive giveaway of municipal property? Or has he, through one final act of petulance, managed to lob a last gob of saliva into the eye of Mayor Gavin Newsom and the city's political elite? The answer is, of course, "Yes."

"I'm not a big fan of Larry Ellison," said Daly of the Oracle CEO and yachting billionaire, who stands to control large swaths of San Francisco's waterfront if any of the extant America's Cup San Francisco deals go through. "I think the sporting event is hoity-toity and really just for the elite. But, that said, the reason why I opposed the bid is San Francisco took a bath on it. We [would lose] tens of millions of dollars, potentially close to $150 million.

"You want to know how much power someone has in their last days as supervisor?" continued Daly, who will be termed out in January. "I have pushed that limit. I have scrounged together six votes to prevent the city from giving away $150 million to the sixth-richest man in the world."

Daly said the bomb the America's Cup dropped on the city over the weekend is "ultimately, not even about their sailing event. It's about land control." The supervisor believes Ellison's overarching goal was to develop Pier 50, a stone's throw from AT&T Park, and build a waterfront arena there.

click to enlarge 'And away go troubles, down the drain...'
  • 'And away go troubles, down the drain...'

Our calls to Oracle and Ellison have not yet been returned.

If the America's Cup organizers can play hardball, perhaps the city can, too. Daly doesn't expect our city -- which is rather broke -- to start making promises to spend money it doesn't have, especially after several Budget Analyst reports outline the hefty costs of the city's earlier plans. If the race organizers are serious about taking their yacht and going home, perhaps they will; Daly considers Dubai a more serious contender than anywhere in America or Europe.

"Ellison can do whatever the fuck he wants," said Daly with language befitting a different class of sailor. "If he really likes the America's Cup, if he wants to do it on a world-class stage, he'll do it here. If he just wants to be an asshole, he'll pack it up and move somewhere else.

"But I hear he's an even bigger asshole than I am."

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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