America’s Cup: For the glass half empty crowd

Published on December 15th, 2013

By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
No aspect of our sport provokes opinions like the America’s Cup. There were a lot of barkers convincing us the 34th edition would be great, and parts of it were. For sure at the end, all those parts came together, and it was pretty darn great.

But storybook endings are hard to rely on, and now with the confetti cleaned up, the analysts are looking over the numbers. The event organizers and politicians see the glass half full, while others are not so sure. Here are a couple of the others…

Jon Carroll, SF Chronicle:
I hate to say “I told you so.” Actually, I don’t hate to say it; I enjoy saying it, in a smug and thoroughly annoying sort of way. I like to be right about things. I have been wrong about things, God knows. Right is better.

So I told you the America’s Cup would end up costing the city money. It cost San Francisco $5.5 million to host the yacht race, or races, to the bay. The economic gain to the city was also far below the $902 million projected by Mayor Ed Lee and his gaggle of paid experts, according to this very newspaper.

The event was mostly a snooze, except right at the end, when by grit and determination, the cheaters won. I’m not sure what sporting message that is sending to the rest of the world, but as long as an American boat won, everybody here was happy.

Meanwhile, that $5.5 million the city won’t get back would have looked awfully good when turned into funds for homeless shelters, or park restoration, or even repaired potholes. Instead it got a boat race that generated money mostly for people who already had a fair amount of it.

Now the city wants to put in another bid for another America’s Cup. Naturally, the projections are rosy. The projections are always rosy. That’s what developers do – they sell dreams. – Read on

Joe Eskenazi, SF Weekly:
Earlier last week, America’s Cup backers sent out a triumphant press release announcing the event generated $364 million in economic impact. That’s a far cry from the $1.4 billion figure used to sell the event, or March’s downward revision to $900 million, but, hey, it’s still a lotta money – even if city taxpayers are on the hook for some $5.5 million.

The lead author for the study, however, admitted to SF Weekly that “it’s difficult to know” if $364 million represents any more than tourists who swarm San Francisco during the summer months would have generated regardless.

Professor Robert Baade took a gander at the America’s Cup financials generated by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute at our request. The internationally renowned scholar on public expenditures for “mega-events” summed up his thoughts concisely: “These numbers seem extraordinarily inflated.”

Take the claim the event generated 2,300 jobs – Baade doesn’t.

First of all, as SF Weekly has noted all too many times, “jobs” weren’t measured here. “Work” was. So none of the projections measured how many additional jobs were created but how much additional work the event produced. And that’s different. – Read on

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