How to benefit from the America’s Cup

Published on June 2nd, 2014

by Roger Marshall – Jamestown, RI
The America’s Cup has a long history of chasing what is believed to be its economic benefit. Somewhere in my filing system I have the economic projections for America’s Cup events going back beyond the 1987 Match in Perth, Australia. In virtually every one, rosy economic projections have failed to live up to reality. Almost every early projection has been way over the mark and the final results have been economically disappointing.

For example, back in 1985 the Center for Applied and Business Research (CABR) in Western Australia predicted that Perth would see 5.7 million visitors during the AC season and an economic impact of more than $600 million. As we now know the number of visitors peaked at somewhere around 60,000 per month for the five month event with an equally small revenue stream.

Similarly, Auckland in 2000 and 2003 never met the projected revenues, but for New Zealand, the impact helped promote the entire NZ marine industry (especially the highly remunerative superyacht sector) to the world. In that case, it was considered to be a success. Continued NZ government funding seems to demonstrate that the event is still considered to help the country’s marine related economy.

San Francisco in 2013 never lived up to its economic impact and with only a tiny marine industry, it did little to help boating businesses.

Given the past results, it would be logical to assume that any new America’s Cup event will not meet the rosy projections expected of it, but from the NZ example, it would appear that hosting an America’s Cup event could be considered to be successful if it were tied into the promotion and expansion of the overall American marine industry.

To that end the strongest competitor for hosting the event would appear to be Newport, RI, surrounded by a relatively strong north-eastern marine industry and situated between the large economies of cities like New York and Boston.

That said, Rhode Island, being such a small state, could not afford to fund the event without some form of help from other NE states who could also benefit economically. Maybe it is time for boat owning, RI Governor Chafee to make a realistic bid for the event in concert with other New England states, rather than have RI try to go it alone.

Editor’s note: Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it is our understanding that Newport is no longer a candidate to host the 35th America’s Cup finals.

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