THE AMERICA’S CUP COMING TO NEWPORT ?

The latest scuttlebutt is that San Francisco is in jeopardy of losing the America’s cup races. Tom Ehman is coming back east to speak with Keith Stokes in Newport, RI.

My reaction to this : “Be careful what you wish for”. Newport, nor Rhode Island  does not have the resources to host an America’s Cup as is expected in today’s world. Newport might be able to handle an “Act” ( an event leading up to the AC).  Like so many things in life; we shall see.  I still believe it will end up in Italy.

San Francisco in danger of losing America’s Cup

(AP) – 1 day ago

San Francisco has been told it will lose the right to host the next America’s Cup unless a deal is signed by Friday.

The warning came in a letter the Golden Gate Yacht Club sent to Mayor Gavin Newsom and other officials on Saturday.

America’s Cup official Stephen Barclay said he considered San Francisco to have come up with the winning bid in early November, when city officials and the yacht club negotiated an agreement that was then sent to the Board of Supervisors to begin the approval process.

But he said the Port Commission recently changed key points in the agreement that would put too much of a financial risk on the America’s Cup Event Authority, which has been contracted by the GGYC to run the regatta.

The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee will hold a final hearing Monday, and the full board is expected to vote on the agreement Tuesday.

“They’re holding on by their fingernails at the moment,” Barclay told The Associated Press on Saturday from his home in Auckland, New Zealand. “It was theirs to lose and they were told that.”

Barclay said the GGYC — which sponsors America’s Cup champion BMW Oracle Racing — set the deadline because the America’s Cup Event Authority is committed to informing participating teams of the venue choice by Dec. 31.

BMW Oracle Racing swept Alinghi of Switzerland in two races off Valencia, Spain, in February to return the oldest trophy in international sports to the United States for the first time since 1995.

San Francisco officials have estimated that hosting the America’s Cup would be worth $1.4 billion in economic benefits and create 8,000 jobs.

Barclay said the GGYC has reopened talks with Italy to hold the America’s Cup in 2013. He added that Tom Ehman, a member of the GGYC’s board of directors, was en route to Newport, R.I., to reopen talks with officials there. Ehman also is a member of the New York Yacht Club, which defended the America’s Cup in Newport from 1930 until 1983, when Dennis Conner was beaten by Australia.

Barclay is chief operating officer of BMW Oracle Racing and a member of the GGYC’s America’s Cup Committee. BMW Oracle Racing is owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, whose Oracle Corp. is based in Redwood City, south of San Francisco. Ellison also owns a mansion in Newport.

Italy is in the mix because Club Nautico di Roma is the Challenger of Record, which represents the interests of all challengers.

There might even be a third option. BMW Oracle Racing officials are said to have remained in the United Arab Emirates following the recent Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta, perhaps to initiate talks about the America’s Cup being sailed in the Middle East.

Newsom’s spokesman, Tony Winnicker, confirmed receipt of the letter from Barclay.

“We’re confident we’ll put forward the best possible bid for the team to consider well in advance of the date it has set,” Winnicker said.

Winnicker said the city will consider the GGYC’s recommendations in the letter. The original agreement included a pledge by the city for a local America’s Cup Organizing Committee to help raise $270 million in corporate sponsorship money to help defray the estimated $300 million cost of the regatta, and a commitment by the America’s Cup Event Authority to spend $150 million to refurbish certain piers south of the Bay Bridge in exchange for future development rights.

Barclay said the Port changed the agreement to include piers north of the Bay Bridge and changed the terms of the long-term leases. He added that the pledge of help in raising the $270 million in sponsorship is just that — “a promise, not a guarantee.” He said that pledge was in lieu of San Francisco paying a fee to earn the hosting rights. Valencia, he said, paid $85 million for the 2007 America’s Cup and guaranteed approximately $50 million in sponsorships.

“All of us recognize that having the event on the bay, which really is a natural amphitheater, would just be a fantastic place to hold the America’s Cup,” Barclay said. “That said, the arrangements can’t put at risk the event itself.”

City officials responded Saturday with a letter to Barclay, saying they believe the northern proposal has a greater net development value than the original agreement and will dramatically lower the event authority’s upfront investment costs.

“We believe that the city’s bid, subject to any final changes imposed by the Board of Supervisors during its deliberations, offers remarkable opportunities for the America’s Cup,” the letter said in part. It was signed by Jennifer Matz, director of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and Monique Moyer, the port director.

While aware of the city’s financial woes, Barclay said Cup officials were “exasperated” with the changes.

Winnicker said he understands that San Francisco’s process for doing business can be frustrating to some.

“We have always believed that this is a serious competition,” Winnicker said. “We believe this would be an unmatched opportunity for the America’s Cup right here in San Francisco. We’re going through this because we want to win. We want to bring it here.”

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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ws lirakis

a sailor who carries a camera

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