Next Year's America's Cup Facing Cuts In Staff, Budget, Competitors
America's Cup organizers said that the sailing event in S.F. next year is “now scheduled to have fewer competitors, fewer event facilities and no direct investment from race organizers into long-term infrastructure on the waterfront,” according to a front-page piece by Lee & Cote of the S.F. CHRONICLE. The latest cut "came Friday when the Event Authority, the regatta's business arm, laid off 28 workers -- about a quarter of the staff -- from information technology, marketing and communications.” The event, led by Oracle Founder & CEO Larry Ellison, initially “planned to spend $111 million on repairing deteriorating piers the city has not been able to afford to fix for decades.” But race officials “backed away from that cornerstone agreement last month.” The revised deal, which the Board of Supervisors will consider today, now “calls for the port to invest nearly $22 million in pier and related repairs, as outlined in an audit report released Friday" by the city's Budget & Legislative Analyst Harvey Rose. In addition to “scaling back the development deal, the Event Authority has shaken up its top staff.” Event Chair Richard Worth is “now focused on securing international television deals for the event.” Worth last month said it has been "bloody tough" lining up international sponsorships. Race organizers are “paying NBC to broadcast portions of exhibition matches domestically, rather than getting paid for it, in an effort to boost interest.” Organizers had also “tried to transfer one of two planned exhibition races in San Francisco this summer and fall to New York to generate media attention and sponsorships, but [interim CEO Stephen] Barclay said that plan was cut short” (S.F. CHRONICLE, 3/24). An event spokesperson said that the “extent of the layoffs might lead America’s Cup officials to close their San Francisco office on Pacific Avenue and consolidate in a smaller office space along the city's waterfront” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 3/23). In S.F., Ken Garcia notes Ellison has “already kicked in $300 million to boost the America’s Cup race, which he wants to make a must-see event.” Still, America’s Cup organizers have “only raised about a third of the hoped-for $36 million promised for the event" (S.F. BUSINESS TIMES, 3/23 issue).