Byline: Associated Press/Paul Elias
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Organizers of sailing’s most prestigious event say they are dramatically scaling back plans to renovate San Francisco’s dilapidated waterfront.
After weeks of increasing tensions between the Board of Supervisors and representatives of software mogul and Oracle Racing syndicate head Larry Ellison over planning for next year’s America’s Cup, an agreement was reached to scrap plans for turning two little-used piers near downtown into the event’s publicly accessible “pit row” that would house racing teams challenging for the trophy.
Mayor Ed Lee made the announcement during a news conference at San Francisco’s Pier 80, where Ellison is building his space-age catamaran to defend the trophy he won in 2010 off the coast of Spain.
Ellison picked San Francisco Bay as the location of the 34th race for the America’s Cup, scheduled for September 2013. The plan was for Ellison’s race team to spend $55 million on piers 30 and 32 in exchange for rent-free use of them for 66 years and title to a city-owned lot nearby.
Instead, all competitors will now be housed at Pier 80, which Ellison has already spent several million dollars renovating. But the location is about 2 miles from the proposed “racing village” that is expected to serve as the event’s hub. Pier 80 will still be open to the public, but organizers concede that it may require a bus ride instead of a walk from the racing village to visit.
Nonetheless, Lee and organizers insisted Feb. 27 that none of the 50 or so race days leading up to the final weekend of racing in September 2013 or the planned course around Alcatraz Island in front of the city’s skyline will change. The racing village planned at Piers 27-29 along the heart of the city’s waterfront is continuing. The village will be converted into a cruise ship terminal after the America’s Cup events.