Locals lead push to win America’s Cup venue 

While well-heeled sailing aficionados, developers and business leaders are holding mixers at fancy waterfront restaurants to cheerlead an attempt to bring the America’s Cup sailing race to San Francisco, city leaders are continuing talks with billionaire Larry Ellison’s winning team to make that happen.

On Thursday night, about 150 people attended an event at Pier 3’s tony Plant Café Organic intended to rally support for bringing the race to San Francisco Bay. The mixer was spurred by a Facebook campaign that managed to attract 4,000 members to the cause within a few weeks.

“We just want to show [Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing team] how many people — and what caliber people — are interested in making this happen,” organizer Paige Brooks said.

Earlier that same day, a group of city officials and volunteers from the development world met with leaders of the BMW-Oracle team as part of ongoing discussions about potential venues in San Francisco.

According to waterfront developer Simon Snellgrove, who was at the meeting, Ellison’s sailing syndicate provided some details about what facilities would be needed at a San Francisco venue. Snellgrove has an interest in the project both as a sailing enthusiast and because he sees it as an opportunity for private development on the waterfront.

Ellison’s team indicated that any venue would need about an acre of facilities per challenger in the race, according to Snellgrove. Since the syndicate has not yet made decisions about where the event will be held or what size and type boats will be raced — choices they are entitled to make, being the defending champions of the trophy — no teams have challenged and it’s not clear how many will.

Snellgrove said a working estimate is that perhaps 12 challengers may participate. Those teams would each employ between 150 and 180 people and would likely be practicing on the Bay for about a year prior to the actual races, he said.

City officials have said that four candidate sites in San Francisco could make the cut: Treasure Island, a 13-acre site at Piers 30-32 under the Bay Bridge, Pier 48 just south of AT&T Park, and cargo facility Pier 80 on The City’s southern waterfront.


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