San Francisco supervisors today approved a nonbinding term sheet for the city’s proposal to host the 2013 America’s Cup sailing race despite concerns by some supervisors about the impact it would have on the city.
San Francisco is competing with Spain and Italy for the internationally known regatta, which Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing team won earlier this year on behalf of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club.
As the winner, Ellison’s team and the club get to choose the site of the next race in spring 2013.
The board approved the term sheet this afternoon by a 9-2 vote with supervisors Chris Daly and John Avalos dissenting.
The terms outline the city’s proposal for the race, including a venue plan, financial terms, sponsorships, a schedule and event plans. It would also include long-needed repairs to piers along the bay waterfront.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has said the race could bring $1.2 billion and thousands of jobs to the local economy.
A binding agreement would come back before the supervisors for approval at a later date, but Daly and Avalos worried that a yes vote today would set an irreversible process in motion, even if problems crop up later.
“Will this be good for San Francisco? I am not so sure,” said Daly, whose district includes part of the waterfront and, he said, would be most affected by the race.
Daly said financial questions remain and that hosting the race could end up costing the city “tens of millions of dollars.”
He also complained about not being consulted by his colleagues on the matter and threatened to “make sure that these boats will never see that water.”
“I got a bee in my bonnet…that is a billionaire’s boat race,” he said.
Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, whose district lies along the northern waterfront and includes the Golden Gate Yacht Club, countered that she had no reservations about the term sheet.
“I pray to God that Ellison says yes,” she said.
Alioto-Pier said San Francisco’s history is rooted in the bay and the impact of the America’s Cup on the city would be “great.”
“It will be positive,” she said.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi called it “a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity” for San Francisco.
The mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development pledged to return to the board in the next few weeks with a fiscal feasibility study on the race.
But, Avalos warned, “A term sheet provides a framework that is almost a foregone conclusion.”
Board President David Chiu urged his colleagues to approve the term sheet today, adding that future approval would be subject to an environmental review.
“If we wait, this will not be a good sign to the America’s Cup team, as we are competing with two countries,” Chiu said.
Ari Burack, Bay City News