America's Cup: Everyone Lowers Their Expectations

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Looks like it's go time...
Barring unforeseen circumstances -- Chris Daly, a rain slicker, and a longshoreman's hook -- the Board of Supervisors today will give its blessing to the pared-back America's Cup plan.

This supes probably would have approved the Cup's glitzy prior iteration, which could have cost the city up to $136 million and potentially would have had San Francisco reimbursing Larry Ellison's America's Cup Event Authority into the 22nd century. But Team Ellison backed out, and now the infrastructure costs stand at around one-seventh of that. The race organizers -- who have had their trouble with scaring up sponsorships -- recently sent large numbers of employees overboard.

History may be the judge, but one could argue San Francisco has dodged a bullet, despite its best efforts to be struck in the heart. Sometimes you just get lucky.

The deal before the supervisors is not without problematic details, however (you can read the Budget Analyst's latest on it here, if you're so inclined).

Here are two interesting sticking points:

  • Whether the city makes or loses millions appears to be largely based on if Mark Buell's America's Cup Organizing Committee can raise the $32 million some alarmingly malleable legal writing ties them to. As it stands, if the ACOC comes through and if the city picks up some $20 million in augmented hotel, payroll, sales, and parking taxes, then things should work out. That's not exactly money in the bank.

Former Board President Aaron Peskin, who is also a litigant against the city and America's Cup, offered backhanded praise for the current offer.

"In the beginning, the America's Cup and Larry Ellison tried to shoot the moon and stars. Later on, it was just the moon. Now they're just getting a good deal," he says. "Ellison is still not paying his fair share. I think he should be doing what Warren Hellman did. He said 'Help me with my permits in Golden Gate Park and I'll put on a show that'll bring tens of millions in revenue to the city and I'll pay for everything.' But Larry Ellison is no Warren Hellman.

"This is probably as good as this bad deal gets."

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How can we lower our expectations below zero?


So now the American Cup has a beautiful patina, which is still breathtaking and with a little elbow grease can be returned to its natural gleaming state.Come on San Francisco, we've wanted the American Cup for a long time, ok the timing may be slightly off but lets do it right.


It is still a boondoggle, but at least now it has been reduced to tens of millions of dollars instead of hundreds of millions of dollars that the ACOC will steal from SF taxpayers to host their own private party...

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