America's Cup is a win-win for San Francisco host city

Updated: 2013-12-11 11:26

By Chen Jia (China Daily USA)

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America's Cup is a win-win for San Francisco host city

When American billionaire Larry Ellison skipped out of a company conference earlier this year to watch his boat Oracle win the final race of 34th America's Cup in San Francisco, another far-sighted billionaire was also taking stock of the action.

As the founder and sponsor of China Team, entrepreneur Wang Chaoyong supported four Chinese national sailors on board, for the first time, in this oldest trophy of international sport in 2013.

It changed the embarrassing fact that only experienced non-Chinese sailors were ever seen on China Team boats in previous races of yachting's prestigious event.

Though China Team's campaign ended in the prelims in Napoli without getting to the finals in San Francisco this year, team members said the experience of competing with the world's top sailors was "very helpful" and "very precious".

The America's Cup is a test not only of sailing skill and boat design, but also of fundraising and management skills.

"China's growing presence in the America's Cup is extremely exciting and will add to the competitive excitement of this international event," Rufus Jeffris, vice-president for communications at the Bay Area Council, told China Daily on Tuesday.

"We applaud the investment that Mr Wang Chaoyong is making to build his team and grow the sport of sailing in China," he said.

Jeffris said San Francisco's hosting of the 34th America's Cup provided an ideal venue to deepen relations among international partners and could have cultural and economic benefits far beyond the boundaries of the racecourse.

"We look forward to the day that this thrilling competition may make its way to China's shores," he added.

The breathtaking sailing does not only win honor for sailors, but also presents huge marketing opportunities.

The San Francisco Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimates that hosting 34th America's Cup generated $550 million in economic activity for San Francisco and created more than 3,800 jobs.

The international event also contributed almost $6.6 million in tax revenue to the City of San Francisco, the report said.

"The $550 million in economic activity generated by the America's Cup is substantial," said Sean Randolph, president of the institute.

"The activity benefitted hundreds of small businesses and other employers in San Francisco and the Bay Area and produced tax revenue that supports a wide range of important city services," Randolph said.

"Hosting the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco 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," said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

"Our investment brought in significant revenue to the city and the lessons we learned will help us deliver even better world-class events in the Bay Area in the future," he said.

Another conservative estimate shows that the America's Cup generated $364 million in economic activity, created around 2,900 jobs and contributed almost $5.7 million in tax revenue to San Francisco. It excluded a new cruise terminal in San Francisco, of which the construction was accelerated due to the America's Cup races.

The report said the data also do not include economic activity created throughout the region, local and Bay Area visitor spending, or the benefits associated with the media coverage of the high-tech competition that promote the San Francisco Bay Area as an international tourist destination.

The economic benefits came from almost $280 million in overall spending by the various teams that competed, large numbers of visitors that flocked to the waterfront to watch sailboats and the many events that accompanied the races, it said.

Almost $3.7 million of tax revenue came from hotel stays, while tax revenue from parking and retail spending combined reached $2.1 million, it said.

The largest segment of economic benefits stemmed from spectators who traveled to San Francisco to watch the races, recording up to $126.7 million, it said.

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(China Daily USA 12/11/2013 page2)