San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and other dignitaries gathered at City Hall today to celebrate the city’s scheduled hosting of the 34th annual America’s Cup sailing race in 2013.
Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing Team won the last race in Spain in February on behalf of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club and got to select the host city for the next race.
After reportedly considering bids from Newport, R.I., and Italy, race organizers announced on Dec. 31 that San Francisco would host the race.
“This is an extraordinary moment in San Francisco’s history,” Newsom said at today’s event.
He said the San Francisco Bay offers a unique venue for a race that is often held out at sea where the average citizen can barely watch it, if at all.
“A race that’s often hard to see is going to be impossible to miss here in San Francisco,” he said.
Ellison agreed, calling the Bay “the most natural amphitheater that God created on this Earth.”
The race’s course will allow it to be seen by hundreds of thousands of spectators in San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, he said.
In a scheduling coincidence, the San Francisco Giants’ World Series trophy was also at City Hall this afternoon for the start of its five-state tour. After today’s event, organizers brought the trophy next to the large America’s Cup trophy for a photo opportunity.
Newsom compared the sailing race to the Giants’ run to the World Series title as an experience that can give a community “that sense of spirit, that sense of optimism that only sports can provide.”
About 10 million visitors from outside San Francisco are expected to attend the event, said Richard Worth, chairman of the America’s Cup Event Authority Management Board, which will oversee planning of the race.
Race organizers estimate that the race could inject more than $1 billion into the local and regional economies and add thousands of jobs.
Ellison said he hoped the 2013 America’s Cup, which will feature faster, more technologically advanced boats, will also attract a new and younger crowd to sailing.
He said he hoped it will be “turning this from kind of an elitist event into a popular sporting event” and “more of an extreme sport.”
Newsom said that an extraordinary amount of work still needs to be done to prepare the city for the race, which is scheduled for September 2013.
The first step is getting the environmental review approved for the project, which includes the construction of race venues at several piers along the city’s northern waterfront.
Officials said the process is expected to take about a year.
“This is the beginning, not the end,” Ellison said.
Dan McMenamin, Bay City News