San Franciscans rang in the New Year celebrating the news that they will be host to the 34th America's Cup and the spectacle of 72-foot wing-sail catamarans racing on their home turf - San Francisco Bay - against a spectator- and television-friendly backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge and the downtown waterfront.
Delivered as promised by 2010's end, the New Year's Eve announcement by the America's Cup Event Authority gave the nod to the City by the Bay over three other suitors: historic Cup venue Newport, R.I., an unidentified Italian city and a second unidentified applicant, possibly Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
"San Francisco Bay and its natural amphitheater is the best place on Earth to defend the America's Cup and bring millions of new fans to sailing from around the world," says the city's mayor and California Lt. Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom.
Newport, which threw its hat in the ring in mid-December after talks between the Event Authority and frontrunner San Francisco stalled, will get the consolation prize of one of the pre-Cup regattas scheduled for this summer in 45-foot cats.
San Francisco, hometown of Larry Ellison, the billionaire software developer and winner of the 33rd Cup in Valencia, Spain, had been anointed from the start as the likely candidate to host the next Cup. Like many U.S. cities, however, it is strapped for cash, so negotiations with the event authority were difficult.
Subject to tweaking, the host city agreement gives Ellison's Oracle syndicate 66-year leases and development rights for three piers on the bay and a seawall lot at the foot of Bryant Street, as well as development options on two more piers, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle. In return, the syndicate will invest $55 million to $80 million to refurbish the piers for the Cup.
The city will incur $31 million in direct costs, and the event authority will have to raise at least $300 million from sponsors. The race village is expected to be on piers 19 and 29, the team bases at piers 30 and 32, and the public viewing area between piers 19 and 29.
The 34th America's Cup starts with a series of prerace regattas in 45-foot catamarans at venues around the world in 2011 and 2012, followed by the challenger series in 72-footers in San Francisco in summer 2013 and the Cup match on the bay in the 72-footers in September 2013.