The America's Cup meltdown


The America's Cup Event Authority -- the operation that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison set up to run the business side of his personal yacht race -- is melting down, laying off half its staff and scrambling around for new leadership as projected revenues continue to slide and the ultimate size and impact of the event remains in question.

The once-glorious event that was going to be almost as big as the Super Bowl and the World Cup is now shrinking, and the billions of dollars that were going to come in are looking more and more dubious. Doesn't mean it won't happen; the races will go on, because Ellison's pride is involved, but attendance may be lower than expected.

And the net gain to the city could be limited. A new report by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose (pdf) notes that if the America's Cup Organizing Committee doesn't raise the $32 million that it's supposed to dredge up, then the city could wind up losing $11 million on the deal.

Here's the problem with that scenario: Mark Buell, the head fundraiser for the ACOC, has to go to rich people and ask them for money. But the really rich person behind this event, Mr. Ellison, hasn't chipped in a penny to that fund -- and now it appears that money raised by sponsorships will go to pay Ellison back for the money's he's spent on his racing team.

Poor Mark. He has to ask people for money to subsidize the sixth richest person on the planet. And if he can't pull it off, the city ends up with the tab.

Good luck with that.


Having all those wealthy, athletic, successful people making this city the focus of world attention. More than you can stand, I suspect.

Still, now the city can get back to doing what it does best - being provincail and mediocer. That's gotta feel a lot more natural, right?

Posted by Greg on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

on examining the sweet heart deals that the city has given its employees, the city might be in better shape.

I've never believed the wacky schemes of the SEIU and other public employee union schemes, when I read the nutty expectation of the America's cup group I just got a laugh.

The so called Guardian watch dogs of good government have been hilariously off the hook when it comes to the self serving schemes of our city employees but are up on the America's Cup?

If America's cup can put some money into the water front and add some value, that is a plus, there is no plus to being servile and rote apologists for city employee non sense. That is the difference.

Posted by Matlock on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

And how much money are you giving Larry Ellison for his egotistal vanity hobby

Posted by GuestAchelnick on Apr. 01, 2012 @ 11:51 am

I can only hope that other large events that are considering San Francisco as a venue take proper note. You can try, you can create your big plans but in the end you, too, will leave with your tails between your legs.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 5:01 pm
Posted by Troll II on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 5:18 pm
Posted by Sambo on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 6:28 pm

Cup backers argue that San Francisco needs the attention and business that the Cup will bring to town, and therefore we should pay for the privilege.

However, even if we agree with the assumption we need the attraction, it doesn't follow that we have to pay for the Cup to come here. We're not being offered the Cup out of charity or sentimentality. Don't kid yourself, that's not the way big business works - and the Cup is big business, don't kid yourself on that count either.

The Cup is here because Ellison and company are trying to build up a new sport. Much like launching a new soccer league, Ellison and company are trying to turn high-tech sailing races into the next X games, and they make no bones about it in their business plans.

For that launch, they need a world class city as a backdrop for the network cameras. They need also need a natural amphitheater to showcase the race - the lack of which seriously undermined public interest in prior Cup race and something else they themselves have bragged about in promoting the Cup in San Francisco. You think Ellison ever was serious about his threat to go to Rhode Island? Think again. San Francisco is the only place to be if you're in the business of launching a new made-for-TV sport.

Yes, the Cup is a great race, and yes it will help bring both tourist dollars to the City as well as dollars to local marine businesses.

But there is no reason to pay for the "privilege."

Posted by Hunter Cutting on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

Let's see them make racing look good with the crummy backdrop of San Diego or Santa Barbara. Or maybe they would really slum it out near Monterrey. What was the name of that laughingstock golf event that they tried down there? Pebble Beach was it? Does anyone remember THAT laughable failure.

The X games analogy is right on. Just with multi million dollar skate boards.

Posted by Steroidal Progressive on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 7:08 pm

God I hate fun, especially if Rich people love it too..

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

City officials happily destroyed Halloween in the Castro, ran LoveEvolution out of town, wage war on nightclubs, and they're trying their best to kill B2B.

Seems like any free or cheap event that young people enjoy is being killed.

Oh but if millionaires want to race their yachts, it's all red carpet and "what can we do for you sir?"

Hope this thing keeps shrinking. Maybe it'll shrink to the point where we can drown it in the bathtub.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 9:47 pm

I also remember the excuse they used to shut it down. Increasing violence for many years and then multiple people got 'shot'. With a 'gun'. Big deal.

Of course the real reason was that not enough millionaires were in the crowd. They never bother the events that only millionaires frequent such as Gay Pride, Bay To Breakers, the 4th of July, New Year's Eve and Carnival in the Mission.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

They're trying to shut down Bay to Breakers too.

And yes, violence does sometimes break out anywhere where there are large crowds. That doesn't take away the fact that thousands of people enjoyed Halloween.

And what about Love? Was anyone ever shot at that? What was the purpose of running it out of town to Oakland?

Reductio ad absurdum only goes so far, Troll. Just because they haven't killed every free event, doesn't mean there isn't a bias on the part of city officials. It seems there's a definite hierarchy of large events the city supports.

If there's money to be made for big business (America's Cup, Olympics), or it's backed by the wealthy and well-connected (Hardly Strictly Bluegrass), then they're just licking their chops and rolling out the red carpet!

If it deals with themes that will incur the wrath of a powerful ethnic minority (Chinese New Years, St. Patricks Day, Pride), or patriotic themes (Blue Angels, Memorial Day, 4th of July), then it will be tolerated even if it causes significant harm, injuries, accidents, or economic costs.

But if it's mainly something that provides joy to young people who don't have powerful political backing (Bay to Breakers, Halloween, LoveEvolution), then official San Francisco is downright hostile.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 24, 2012 @ 8:14 am

I remember that there had been significant problems with violence breaking out at Halloween even before the huge shooting that killed it. And in fact, they try to save Bay To Breakers in spite of the the fact that dozens of innocent home owners are essentially having their homes vandalized by drunken participants.

I've lived in a number of cities and I think that San Francisco tries pretty hard to let people have fun, even to run around downtown naked if they wish. But just because an event is enjoyed by the non-powerful doesn't give it a Carte Blanche for any type of destructive behavior towards others.

Posted by Troll on Mar. 24, 2012 @ 10:37 am

There's a certain tendency among some quarters to associate with authority, so I understand the temptation to automatically assume the motives of those in power to be basically good. And yet, when you think outside the box, a definite bias does emerge.

Whenever you have large crowds, some arguments are bound to erupt, especially when there's alcohol involved... which is pretty much the case with most large events. Whenever there's a lack of readily available porta potties, there's bound to be some public urination.

Reminds me about the time I was observing the annual anti-choice march at the Embarcadero... as I was walking toward the main gathering, I noticed off to the side, an obese middle aged man was urinating in the bushes near some high end yuppie condos, his anti-choice/anti-Obama sign left lying on the grass as he relieved himself. As he stood there in mid-stream, I yelled as loudly as I could (so as to cause maximum embarrassment to the perp), "Hey! What are you doing? Maybe Jesus lets you urinate all over your trailer park out in the Central Valley, but that's illegal in our city. We don't let people urinate in public like dogs here!" Should've taken his sign while I was at it and thrown it in the garbage, under the guise of... you know, picking up litter. Oh, that was yours? Really? I just saw it lying there. Thought it was trash. Too bad that angle didn't come to mind at the time.

But I digress... funny stories aside, the point is that this stuff happens at a lot of events. And yet, it seems like there's a definite bias in the way that authorities respond to it. At some events, they sort of close their eyes. At others, they take every incident and blow it out of proportion and use as an excuse to attack the event itself. Could it be that with some events, they're just looking for the pretext to ban it?

Ya think?

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 7:44 am

what a douche. Just what exactly makes you so superior to those that live in the central valley?

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 8:14 am

Greg's thinking:

White - bad; non-white - good

Rich - bad; poor - good

Rural and suburban areas - bad; inner cities - good

Conservative - bad; Liberal - good

Profit and Business - bad; non-profits and government - good

And so on. He's a walking brain-dead checklist.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 8:57 am

Straying a bit off the reservation, aren't we?

The guy just looked like a trailer park slob, so I was just going for maximum embarrassment. Personally, I could care less about someone taking a leak, but these conservatives are always the first to cry foul over so-called public nuisances, so I just wanted to call out a sanctimonious anti-choicer on something that he probably would call the cops on if he saw it happening in whatever rathole he came from.

PS... I love how the trolls are now going beyond taking other people's identities, and now having conversations with themselves. Sure sign of trolldom... or insanity.

Posted by Greg on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 11:01 am

Re; PS.
Kind of like watching a Republican Presidential Campaign Debate, but with even less sense or substance.

Posted by Patrick Monk RN on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

As usual SF has to offer corrupt deals that no one else has to because that's just the way our real estate mafia rocks.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 23, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

Good, our plan to keep San Francisco as a museum locked in time advances another tentative step.

Posted by marcos on Mar. 25, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

The SFBOS looked an America's Cup gift horse in the mouth and then shot in the head.

Avalos, Campos and Peskin are idiots.

Is this going to be the America's Cup city of the world, or not?

Posted by Guest on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

Not, I hope.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:42 am

San Francsico has it share of rich people, they live in your Pac Heights, Presido, Sea Cliff, Nob Hill, etc. What is a matter with a boat race, or I forget it is a rich person event. I know someone who was looking forward to this event, I told it will be a big joke, we will have limited view areas, it won't be a event to show the world are great city. They won't go for the awe, they will end up going for the smallest event they could. She said no, I said watch you will see, the city won't go for fixing their rundown waterfront. I was right, good luck in getting anything. I remember the headache of a good race that was in the 80's Bay to Breakers was just a party the other one was a full race.

Posted by garrett on Mar. 26, 2012 @ 11:22 pm

Indicative of the non-interest in this rich mens' outrageously expensive raft machine event with 4 entries. As usual with schemes like this, Larry and friends likely has it rigged so he makes money off the people, whether his non-event happens or not.

Posted by Guest on Mar. 27, 2012 @ 8:40 am