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Friday, October 11, 2013

America's Cup: More Unspectacular Economic Indicators Ahoy

Posted By on Fri, Oct 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

click to enlarge Happy campers... - VANCE CARDELL
  • Vance Cardell
  • Happy campers...

San Francisco's hotel occupancy rate in August was 0.3 percent higher than in August 2012.

So there's that.

As the America's Cup recedes into the distance, rose-tinted memories of a spectacular yachting comeback may displace the years of acrimony, unmet promises, and manipulation marking the event's three-year gestation.

Far from the promises of Cup organizers and cheerleaders that the city could essentially take off its shoes and socks and wade through the dollars flowing into San Francisco, bean-counters are now left to scour the ledgerbooks, likely to see how much the city lost on the deal.  

When it became clear even to the most Chauvinistic yachting backer that the America's Cup wasn't going to be the Olympic Super Bowl of Gavin Newsom's dreams, windfall projections were drastically reduced. This led organizers to unsubtly pivot, repurposing visitor-generated tax revenue from city profit into funds necessary to make the city whole after expending millions to host a billionaire's yachting extravaganza.

Numbers released this week regarding city visitors during the Cup do not bode well.

See Also: America's Cup Party at City Hall! Who's Payin'?

The Many Losers of the America's Cup

We've written before that Cup organizers were on shaky ground pledging a cavalcade of city visitors would right the city's flagging America's Cup ship. The event was held during the heart of tourist season, so it's difficult to parse a yachting visitor from a regular visitor. And in a city where hotels regularly experience 90-percent occupancy, how much more money is there to pry from out-of-towners?

Not enough, it would seem.

The good folks at PKF Consulting have released their Northern California Trends in the Hotel Industry Report for the month of August. It reveals that, in the second month of America's Cup racing, San Francisco hotels enjoyed a 92.8 percent occupancy rate.

  • Vance Cardell
That's damn good. But it's only a little damn better than the 92.5 percent occupancy rate in August of 2012. And that 0.3 percent leap is well less than the 1.9 percent growth from last year observed in myriad Bay Area regions.

This mirrors the July data, in which San Francisco's occupancy rate also rose slightly from July of 2012 -- but increased more modestly than the region's overall growth.

September's numbers promise to be intriguing. Oracle Team USA's amazing comeback pushed the event to its maximum number of races. San Francisco all but certainly housed more New Zealanders than anywhere outside of New Zealand. These people weren't sleeping on park benches and eating at St. Vincent de Paul. Money definitely changed hands.

But it's going to be a trick to separate America's Cup eventgoers from Oracle World eventgoers from Hardly Strictly eventgoers. Some partisanship -- from proponents and detractors of the Cup -- will likely emerge.

In the meantime, the Powers that Be are talking about holding the next Cup here, too. It would be great if the numbers we know -- and those yet to come -- would be factored into that equation.

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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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