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San Francisco’s ‘one-horse race’ for America’s Cup

Thursday, December 9, 2010

image Back on Nov. 12, The Bay Citizen’s John Upton broke the story that—despite widespread declarations to the contrary—there were no other known bidders besides San Francisco trying to win Larry Ellison’s blessing to host the 2013 America’s Cup. The revelation made Mayor Gavin Newsom, who had been busy running for lieutenant governor while pushing for a quick term sheet with Ellison, look like the participant in a shell game. Whether as dupe or perpetrator still isn’t clear.

Since then, the push to give Team Ellison decades-worth of plum waterfront development rights and other perks in the name of “competition” for the regattas has hit the shoals of public scrutiny. Kudos to The Bay Citizen for that. Now, the Newsom administration is scrambling to complete an “alternative” offer that needs Board of Supervisor approval, one that’s less generous to Ellison and less costly to the public.

So, is San Francisco, after all, the only horse in the race?

Here’s the last line of an AP story this morning about yesterday’s Budget and Finance Committee session on the matter:

San Francisco appears to be the front-runner to host the race in 2013 although it does face competition from Italy.

Huh?

The Chronicle, meanwhile, has taken to skirting the competition question simply by not mentioning it. An example from today’s Chronicle story:

The team has set up an event authority arm to handle the commercial side of the Cup and will select a site by the end of the year.

You’d think the Chronicle and other Bay Area media besides The Bay Citizen would find it at least mildly interesting that one of the nation’s wealthiest men may have tried to pull one over on San Francisco, if that’s what happened. And it appears that way. From Upton’s TBC story filed last night:

Port Executive Director Monique Moyer told lawmakers that the initial term sheet was negotiated without the close involvement of her staff at a time when everybody in the city was “a bit naïve” about what hosting the event would mean for San Francisco.

The deal was also struck under the impression that cities or ports in other nations were bidding against San Francisco to host the event. City officials told lawmakers Wednesday that they have found no documented evidence that any such bids have been filed.

Moyer said San Francisco could lose the right to host the event to Rhode Island, for example, if it can’t reach an agreement with Ellison’s team, but she said she was not surprised by the absence of other international offers to host the race.

“I’ve never ever expected another offer,” Moyer said.


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