America's Cup will cost San Francisco a pretty penny 

San Francisco will have to spend big — as much as $120 million — in order to land the 34th America’s Cup.

By hosting the sailing race, which is the third-largest sporting event after the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup, The City could reap more than $1 billion. San Francisco is the only U.S. city still in the running to host the race, which could be held in 2014.

The chance for the race to be held here came after billionaire Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing, based out of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, won the world’s oldest sports trophy in February by defeating Switzerland’s Alinghi in Valencia, Spain.

Hosting the world-class event here, however, could come at a high up-front price, Port of San Francisco officials said. City officials are putting together a plan that labels San Francisco’s southern portion of the waterfront as the base for the America’s Cup, including Piers 30-32 and Pier 50. Pier 80 also is being considered as a potential location for the sailing regatta, according to the Mayor’s Office.

Yet Piers 30-32 and 50 — built between 1930 and 1950 — are desperately in need of repair, which would cost between $40 million and $60 million each, said Jonathan Stern, assistant deputy director for waterfront projects for the San Francisco Port.

“All the piers had long, fruitful lives,” Stern said. “They have lived through lots of things, like earthquakes, so we would have to need to do seismic upgrades and there would be a lot of engineering work that would have to go into that.”

Stern ticked off a list of the larger repairs that would be needed: replacing the concrete posts that hold the deck, seismic upgrades and rehabilitating the deck.

Not included in the multimillion-dollar price tag is relocating the pier’s tenants, including the Port’s maintenance division located on the southeast portion of Pier 50, Stern said. City officials have not determined where tenants would be relocated  or how much it would cost.

Moreover, they have no idea how they will pay for the needed repairs. Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has worked tirelessly to make sure San Francisco was on the short list of cities that could be chosen to host the race, said the cost would not be covered by the general fund, which pays for services such as police and fire. Instead, San Francisco would have to rely on “creative financing,” such as including public-private partnerships or a bond.

“There might be a cost of relocation and upgrading, but the cost is negligible compared to the return,” Newsom said. “So it’s one of the best investments The City can make.”

A recent economic analysis found that the competition would draw more than 2.6 million spectators to San Francisco, generating more than $1.4 billion in economic activity.That’s almost three times the estimated impact of hosting the Super Bowl, according to the report released by the Bay Area Council. Also, it would be a boon for jobs, potentially generating more than 8,800 positions and dumping $85 million into state and city coffers.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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