Main sail lowered on America’s Cup expect­ations


“Don’t believe the hype.”

– Public Enemy,  1998

Even without a fatal accident casting shadows across their bow, America’s Cup would have had a hard time meeting their promised $1.4 billion in regional economic benefit.

San Francisco has officially lowered its sights for the world-renowned regatta, now expected to generate just $900 million toward the local economy, reports the SF Public Press.

The City recently downsized its budgeted contribution to $22 million for security, transit and support, still hopeful private donations will wash ashore to keep taxpayers from being thrown overboard.

So far, San Francisco has received $16 million in donations.

Jane Sullivan, spokeswoman for The City’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, told the Public Press more private money was on the way:

“Last Thursday, we received a $750,000 check, so the money is still coming in.”

She did not identify the donor.

It’s not just the economic expectations which have been scaled back; the race itself a sliver of what was expected. Rather than 15 teams, just four teams are now expected to battle for the coveted America’s Cup.

Race officials announced on Monday that refunds would be issued to purchasers of preliminary-round bleacher seats, who were expecting somewhat more than watching just two teams go at each other over and over next month.

And if anybody bows out now — like the mourning Artemis team, already slated to miss the Louis Vuitton Cup preliminaries — the entire race could find itself underwater.

Supervisor John Avalos — long an America’s Cup critic — told the Public Press the exclusive boat race has been a disappointment:

What was supposed to be a big regatta turned out to be three men in a tub. … Ellison has created a monopoly that is difficult for other teams to take part in.”

Revised projections now call for 6,500 new jobs — instead of 8,800 — to be created in connection with the race.

But if $13 million in expected tax revenues fall short, the extra burden will fall — where? Guess: San Francisco taxpayers.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

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