Projecting the benefit of the America’s Cup

Published on June 1st, 2014

If the search for the 35th America’s Cup venue has revealed anything, it’s that all options in North America are on the table. The latest site to go public is Bermuda, with the editors of the country’s daily newspaper – The Royal Gazette – endorsing the opportunity. Here’s an excerpt…

News that Bermuda is in contention to host the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 should be galvanising the entire community, with Government leading the cheerleading efforts to rally the Island behind this prestigious and internationally celebrated event.

For the fact is a successful America’s Cup bid would not just provide the Island with unrivalled worldwide media exposure, it would also kick-start the long-stalled Bermudian economy into top gear.

The America’s Cup is one of the richest economic prizes among all international sporting events, guaranteeing its host community a triple windfall in terms of increased revenue, jobs and infrastructure investment.

Depending on the final race format decided on by organisers, Bermuda would likely benefit for a minimum of two years from serving as a venue for the America’s Cup. While the actual matches between the defender and the ultimate challenger take place over a matter of weeks (days in some instances), at least some of the preliminary regattas between potential America’s Cup hopefuls would be held here. Then a formal challenger selection series, usually involving anywhere between seven and 13 competing syndicates, would take place entirely in Bermuda to choose the team going up against defending champion Oracle Team USA.

Tourism would be the immediate beneficiary of an America’s Cup series held in Bermuda. Confirmation the Island had secured the Cup would likely prompt land-office business at the Planning Department, with blueprints for long-planned (and long-delayed) new hotels and additions to existing properties being rushed into the process.

Even with additional rooms being added to our total stock in time for the 2017 deadline, participants and vacationers drawn by the event would still likely overwhelm the Island’s hotel capacity. But any remaining shortfalls in hotel or guest house accommodation could likely be mitigated by using cruise ships as floating hotels as was done during both the Valencia and San Francisco America’s Cups.

Additionally, armadas of chartered super yachts carrying thousands of more spectators would almost certainly descend on the Island given the America’s Cup draws a bigger audience than any other event on the international sailing calendar.

The knock-on effects of a successful bid on other sectors of our economy — retail, restaurants, construction, among others — would be instantaneous, profound and long-lasting. Jobs would be created, tourism-related and tax revenues boosted, the Hamilton waterfront not so much redeveloped as completely re-conceptualised to accommodate both participating teams and an influx of America’s Cup-related visitors and media. – Full story

Comment: For a venue to determine the projected economic benefit of the America’s Cup, it is vital to have accurate inputs. For San Francisco to begin with a projection of $1.4 billion in 2010, and conclude at $364 million in 2013, their inputs must be questioned. It’s not that $364 million is bad; it’s that it was less than a third of what some anticipated. Hopefully the competing venues will now better project the benefit, though when The Royal Gazette suggests there could be upwards of 13 competing syndicates in Bermuda, after it has been stated that the finals venue will host only four challengers and the defender, the hype is worrisome. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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