Should we consider Saturday’s article on the Associated Press website, widely reproduced throughout the world, as an indication negotiations between the City of San Francisco and Oracle Team USA have reached a point that the America’s Cup holders don’t find beneficial enough? Do they need an extra push through a well-timed article by putting pressure on the city?
Oracle Team USA received Mayor Ed Lee’s preliminary proposal for hosting the next America’s Cup on December 22nd and since then, apparently, the two parties have been in negotiations in order to iron out a deal that would allow the world’s oldest sports trophy to be held again in San Francisco. Russell Coutts, two weeks before that date, stated that San Francisco was the “clear frontrunner” among the prospective bidders to host the event.
Although there has never been any official statement, it was believed that Hawaii was also in the mix, given the fact Larry Ellison bought Lanai island in 2012. Since Ellison owns the trophy why couldn’t he also own the venue? Up until Saturday there weren’t any other indications, or at least we weren’t aware of them, that other possible venues were under consideration. According to Bernie Wilson’s article, San Diego surfaced as a serious alternative as well, and the America’s Cup could be back there in 2017, following a 22-year absence.
Russell Coutts mentions another “non-US port” that is considered as a potential venue, without naming it.
Does that sound familiar? Well, it does because it is exactly the same strategy used by, then, BMW Oracle Racing in 2010 during their negotiations with San Francisco. The deadline set back then was December 31st, 2010 and even ten days before that, Stephen Barclay, COO of BMW Oracle Racing, had sent Rhode Island officials a letter indicating his team was “very serious” in its intent to move forward with that state in order to hold the 34th America’s Cup in Newport.
A few weeks earlier, Russell Coutts was claiming that “strong expressions of interest from four European countries are also being studied by the American Defender. GGYC/BOR will announce a final decision on the venue, along with the date and other details of the next America’s Cup by the end of this year.” There were reports of Valencia being considered as a venue, even if the city had denied it had any intention to bid, given its dire financial situation. Although not officially mentioned in a press release or statement, BMW Oracle was insinuating there was a mysterious Italian city that was offering €500 million for the right to host the America’s Cup in 2013 (yeah, sure…).
As it turned out, these “statements” were well-orchestrated, meant to put pressure on San Francisco officials. Of course, in all negotiations both parties must hold an alternative option in case everything goes awry but it’s difficult to believe, Coutts is seriously considering the option of holding the next Cup in the middle of nowhere or a mysterious “non-US” port, somewhere on this planet.
San Francisco proved to be a great venue despite the fact initial expectations were light years away from reality. It is understandable city officials could be less than enthusiastic about a deal with Oracle Team as the promises made three years ago about the event were in the realm of science fiction. No less than 12 challengers and three defense candidates were expected while Mayor Lee was claiming that he was anticipating 500,000 spectators A DAY during peak days (!!!). In reality, there were three quarters of a million spectators throughout the duration of the entire event!