No one would argue that the Americas Cup SAILING event is a good thing for Bermuda, but some are wondering if everything else that comes with it would actually be worth it.
Back on December 9th, 2013, John Coté wrote an article reflecting on the 34th Americas Cup.
Coté wrote, “San Francisco is still in the red from hosting the 34th America's Cup, which so far has cost taxpayers at least $5.5 million, according to draft financial figures from the regatta that The Chronicle reviewed Monday.
That spending, though, allowed the city to host an event that drew more than 700,000 people to the waterfront over roughly three months of sailing and generated at least $364 million in total economic impact, draft figures from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute reveal. That figure rises to more than $550 million if the long-planned construction of a new cruise ship terminal, which the regatta served as a catalyst to finally get built, is factored in.
Even the higher number, though, is well below the $902 million in economic benefit that was projected in March, a few months before the races were held. And it's a far cry from the $1.4 billion economic boost that was originally predicted in 2010, when the races were billed as trailing only the Olympics and soccer's World Cup in terms of economic impact.
The real costs and benefits of hosting the regatta - the most prestigious competition in competitive sailing and this year the source of one of the most stunning comebacks in international sports - are expected to be in the spotlight as Mayor Ed Lee prepares to submit a preliminary proposal for hosting the next Cup by a Dec. 22 deadline.
Critics contend that using taxpayer funds for the event amounted to subsidizing a vanity race for the ultra-rich. Supporters view it as a smart investment that pumped up the local economy, brought international media coverage and prodded city officials to finish planned waterfront improvements that had languished, including better sidewalks and a promenade at Fisherman's Wharf and a redone bike path and boat berths in the Marina District.
The Cup "showcased our beautiful city to the world and brought thousands of new jobs, long-overdue legacy waterfront improvements, international visitor spending, and a boost to our regional economy," Lee said in a statement.
It came at a cost.
The city spent $20.7 million to hold the event, according to the latest figures from Lee's office. That number does not include more than $180 million in long-planned improvements around the waterfront that were finally completed in advance of the event. The most notable was the new cruise ship terminal at Pier 27, which is only partially finished.
Ongoing private fundraising, which was intended to help cover the city's event costs and initially pegged at $32 million, has so far only reimbursed $8.65 million to taxpayers, while also covering other obligations. If the net increase in city tax revenue of $6.6 million during the event is factored in, that still leaves taxpayers $5.5 million in the red.
"A $5.5 million deficit, all for a yacht race for billionaires," said Supervisor John Avalos, who maintains that such money could have been better spent improving city services in outlying neighborhoods like the Excelsior, which he represents. "The whole event has been nothing more than a stupefying spectacle of how this city works for the top 1 percent on everyone else's dime."