Legendary San Franciscan and three-time America’s Cup sailor, the late Tom Blackaller, once said, “If we ever get the America’s Cup to San Francisco, we’ll show the world how good sailing can be.”
Over the past three months, and especially in September when ORACLE Team USA staged an incredible comeback win over Emirates Team New Zealand, we did just that.
The story started three years ago in 2010 in Valencia, Spain, when Larry Ellison’s ORACLE Team USA won the America’s Cup and earned the opportunity to modernize the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport.
The boats would be the fastest and most demanding on the planet. The sailors would get younger, fitter, and more athletic. The racing would be short, sharp and intense. It would take place close to shore, in a stadium like setting. And the television coverage would take a quantum leap forward.
The setting of San Francisco Bay was instrumental in the realization of these goals. To turn the vision into a reality required a venue with strong, reliable winds, a natural amphitheater style coastline, and an enthusiastic population.
This was an ambitious re-imagining of what the America’s Cup could be and it would require some heavy lifting from all the stakeholders, including our partners the City and County of San Francisco, the Port of San Francisco, the Coast Guard and a myriad of other agencies.
It was important that the America’s Cup should leave a legacy for the city of San Francisco. The new cruise ship terminal at piers 27/29, a project that had been stalled for 25 years, came to fruition in record time with a boost from the America’s Cup. Additional projects such as the Bay Trail between the America’s Cup official sites and the Brannan Street Wharf between piers 30/32 and 38 were completed.
And the 34th America’s Cup became the first major sporting event in the City to be carbon neutral. We supported sustainable seafood initiatives and undertook over 20 waterfront clean-up projects that collected over 17,000 pounds of trash, among other green initiatives.
The America’s Cup Concert Series was a highlight of the summer. The 9,000-seat America’s Cup Pavilion was a hit with fans and performers alike – from Sting to a variety of local acts. After the final show next week, the temporary venue will come down and the space returned to the Port.
We have involved nearly 40 interns in our staffing, all local hires, and most under 25 years old. We worked with over 750 local volunteers, without whom it wouldn’t have been possible to run the event.
It will be a few months before we know the full economic impact, but what we know today is good news. There were over 1 million fans at our official sites and that many more watching from other locations along the waterfront.
The stunning television images showed the whole world San Francisco at its best. We produced over 60 hours of live television which went out to over 190 territories globally. America’s Cup news updates were aired internationally over 15,000 times, and over 550 journalists from 30 countries were accredited to cover the event over the course of the summer.
In the end it was a win-win for San Francisco and the America’s Cup. And San Francisco has proven to the world what San Franciscans already knew: this city can deliver world-class events.
Now that the world “knows how good sailing can be”, it is for San Franciscans to consider the future. Planning for the 35th America’s Cup is already underway.
America’s Cup Event Authority