We all know that money talks. Apparently, it sails, too.
By the looks of things, cash has replaced sirens as the sea’s leading ship-lurer.
Thursday, San Diego Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi confirmed to U-T San Diego that the 2017 America’s Cup has been awarded to Bermuda, not San Diego, and dinero seems to be the principal reason why.
Want to know the new color of money? Yeah… that would be ocean blue.
Not only is San Diego the better place to host the next America’s Cup — the world’s premier sailing event — it might just be the perfect place. From facilities, to accommodations, to history, to racing conditions — we trumped Bermuda in nearly every capacity as a potential venue host.
But there was one thing the Atlantic Ocean island could provide that San Diego couldn’t — a tax-free experience for all the Cup’s participants. What we learned? That even the richest people in the world can sell out.
“If you stack up Bermuda’s assets with San Diego, they don’t win on any direct comparison,” said acclaimed sailor Malin Burnham, a San Diegan who was involved with Dennis Conner’s America’s Cup campaigns in 1987 and 1988. “The question is: Why would you go to Bermuda? It has to be for financial purposes.”
Terzi said the America’s Cup Event Authority representative he spoke with did not offer much explanation for the decision to go with Bermuda, although a stronger financial bid might have been helpful, he was told.
As part of its offer to potentially come to San Diego in 2017, America’s Cup organizers had at one point requested 10,000 free hotel room nights in the three years leading up to the yacht-racing event. Their plan was to use the rooms to court corporate sponsors leading up to the international sailing competition. In addition, organizers wanted 7,500 more room nights at half price, meaning a total gift of $2.75 million in room nights.
San Diego’s hotelier-run Tourism Marketing District, which dispenses marketing revenues generated from a hotel room surcharge, balked at the request.
“The America’s Cup rep said you guys worked hard, we would have liked to have seen a more aggressive bid financially but when it came down to it, Bermuda was the destination Larry needed to choose.”
That would be Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. With an estimated net worth of $51.3 billion, he’s certainly someone who knows how to maximize his finances.
The owner of last year’s winning yacht, Ellison held the power to choose the location of the next America’s Cup. And after meeting with Russell Coutts, the CEO of his sailing team, he decided that his would be the first American crew to defend the title outside of the United States.
But how come?
He certainly wasn’t thinking of the fan experience.
Unlike in Bermuda, where the races will have to be offshore, the sailors would never be out of sight down here. The San Diego Bay is an ideal venue for arena sailing, and given how viewing areas could have been built along the Embarcadero and waterfront piers – not to mention Coronado and Harbor Island – the atmosphere would have been leaps and bounds better than what we’ll see in three years.