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Thursday, March 8, 2012

America's Cup Considering New York City For August Race, to NYC's Surprise

Posted By on Thu, Mar 8, 2012 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge It's been a while
  • It's been a while

The America's Cup will grace San Francisco not once, not twice, but thrice, citizens were promised: before  catamarans race for the main Cup currently held by Larry Ellison's Oracle team in 2013, there will be smaller World Series races in October and in August, according to plans the race event authority floated before city leaders.

That may change, event organizers quietly mentioned in a release this week: the boats may in fact race here only twice. The August race could be in New York City, the Event Authority said in a March 5 release, issued to announce that NBC secured television broadcast rights.

This came as a surprise to San Francisco officials and New Yorkers alike, but is likely nothing more than a "head-fake" from an event authority angry over a scaled-down deal, a source told The Snitch.

It was always the plan for America's Cup-related races to crisscross the globe this year: in a month, the race heads to Italy. Other scheduled races are planned for Venice, and Newport, Rhode Island.

Three teams are competing in the AC World Series. The location of the August event -- San Francisco or New York -- will be announced "shortly," organizers said in a release.

The races will be televised for the first time since 1992.

The Event Authority itself did not deign to speak to The Snitch; phone messages and emails were unanswered as of Wednesday afternoon.

The possibility of losing a race to New York is a "surprise" to Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, involved in negotiations to scale back the waterfront land giveaway promised to race organizers in return for gracing San Francisco Bay with their boats. "This was not something I've been told by the AC Event Authority," Chiu told The Snitch via text message late Wednesday.

The America's Cup is not unknown to New York City, though it's been a while since the boats graced those waters. When the New York Yacht Club owned the cup betweem 1930 and 1983, the race was held there all the time. The race has not been held in the Hudson since the club lost the cup in 1983.

Reached via telephone in Newport on Wednesday, Michael Levitt, communications director for the New York Yacht Club, of which Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a member, said he had yet to hear of any plans to race sailboats in New York.

Whether this came as a surprise to Mayor Ed Lee is unclear; a spokeswoman for the mayor, who last week announced a vastly scaled-back event, said that the city is "waiting to hear" if the televised race will be held in San Francisco or New York.

"This is one of a series of sailing events even in 2012, so the impacts to the City [San Francisco] will be minimal of one race is held in New York," Lee press secretary Christine Falvey wrote in an email. "Under either scenario, there will be a regatta here in 2012."

A source close to the opposition movement called the Event Authority's bi-coastal hedging a "head fake" designed to keep San Francisco on its toes after waterfront development rights were scaled back.

Under the original agreement, Ellison's race team was to spend $55 million to rebuild Piers 30 and 32 in exchange for rent-free use of them for 66 years and title to Seawall Lot 330 -- all prime, undeveloped waterfront property -- nearby.

Those plans -- which likely could have left the city in debt until the year 2100 -- were scuttled last week, after the Event Authority failed to secure sponsorship rights.

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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.


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