Adios San Francisco… Win or Lose

Published on September 15th, 2013

Given the immense investment by Larry Ellison, in both his team and in hosting the 34th America’s Cup, insiders have wondered out loud what would happen if the American team won the event. While the City has cautiously embraced the event, it has not been a red carpet relationship.

The estimated cost to taxpayers for could top $22 million (though some estimates are more than twice that). The promised private fundraising to cover the bill has fallen far short, and now the city is counting on tax revenues from a boost in tourism to make up the difference.

Ellison himself has been an obstacle. “Other well-to-do, philanthropic individuals and organizations aren’t really interested in donating to the hobby of the third-richest person in the United States who’s down to his last $40 billion,” said Aaron Peskin, a former member of the city’s Board of Supervisors.

While team skipper Jimmy Spithill has repeatedly said how his team “wants to keep the Cup here, for the people of San Francisco,” it is not his call. Author Julian Guthrie, who interviewed Ellison for her book ‘The Billionaire and the Mechanic’, is betting against it.

“As for his future involvement, Larry (Ellison) told me that he sometimes feels like the dog that finally caught the bus. You win, then you defend the Cup, but what if you keep winning? And it’s that much more difficult in San Francisco. Larry talked to me candidly about the challenge of working with the City. So if he wins again, I would guess that unless the City comes up with a lot of money to keep the Cup here, it’s going elsewhere. Larry’s not going to keep funding it himself. Personally, I can’t imagine that there would be an America’s Cup in San Francisco again. So people better enjoy it.”

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