America’s Cup: Boon or bust? 

Will the yachting extravaganza The City hopes to host bee a boon or a bust for San Francisco’s bootom line?

As with situations in the City by the Bay, it turns out that all depends on whom you ask.

On Friday, two dueling reports were released about the potential fiscal impact of an America’s Cup race hosted by San Francisco. One expects the race to generate about $88.1 million for The City, while the other expects the city to lose more than $101.4 million.

A mere $189.5 million difference in opinion.

Outgoing Mayor Gavin Newsom’s administration has been vying for The City to be chosen as the host of the international America’s Cup yachting race in 2013, after the previous race was won by the yachting team funded by Bay Area billionaire Larry Ellison. The team now has the right to choose the host city for the next race, and has claimed two other cities are preparing bids, though no other cities have come forward.

Newsom’s staff has touted the race as a major moneymaker for San Francisco, but that claim was deflated by a report released last month by the office of legislative budget analyst Harvey Rose. That report determined that both The City’s and its Port would be required to shoulder huge expenses.

In the early hours of Friday morning, Rose’s office offered a second, updated report. By mid-morning, the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development had released another report with a far different conclusion.

Here are a few of the differences between the reports:

  • The Mayor’s report counts on $32 million in privately raised funding to offset city costs, while Rose’s report points out that this money is by no means guaranteed;
  • The mayor’s report counts about $30 million in long-term increased value on port land, while Rose’s report notes that that increased value will almost solely benefit the developers, rather than the Port;
  • The mayor’s report considers potential long-term increased tax revenue, while Rose’s report states that future tax revenue will be passed to developers;

Which assessment is more accurate will surely be a subject of serious debate at the Board of Supervisor’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.

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Katie Worth

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