Underpromise and Overdeliver

Published on December 18th, 2014

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The America’s Cup is one of those sporting events where the news is mostly not about the sport. This is particularly so in the host city when public funds and government officials are in play. The degree now of promises and politics makes the America’s Cup front page news.

The 2013 America’s Cup spent a lot of time as front page news.

In San Francisco, there was certainly a lot that went right, notably the flying catamarans that proved up to the task as match racing platforms. The broadcast was award-winning, and who could forget the miraculous comeback by defender Oracle Team USA. But the lack of competitors, two dangerous accidents, a cheating scandal, and an accounting that left the City in the red led to a lack of enthusiasm for City officials to host again.

Ultimately, the event did not live up to the hype. And there was a lot of hype. As an editor, I drowned in it. It was a shame, actually,  as the event had to be compared to the promises rather than judged on its merits. It may have been a success on the water, but the secret cheer at City Hall was, “Go, New Zealand.”

The San Francisco Chronicle has a long memory and is not yet ready to close the chapter on the 2013 America’s Cup. A recent column by C.W. Nevius noted some of the mis-steps, stating how “it would take a personal appearance by King Neptune to get San Francisco to consider hosting again.” He wished new host Bermuda well, particularly in light of their $77 million financial commitment.

Wrote C.W., “As someone who was on the inside of San Francisco’s Cup bid says, that’s $45 million more than the total San Francisco spent, and after sponsorships were included the city’s contribution was just $24 million. (The final event shortfall was $5 million after sales and endorsement money came in.)”

With the baton now in Bermuda’s hand, their local media is already tracking the organization of the event. They have reported on the details of the hosting agreement, the legislation needed to meet the demands of the AC Event Authority, the concerns of environmental groups, and the travel reimbursement submitted by government officials.

Raising a glass of Moët & Chandon to toast, I hope the lessons of the past lead now to an event that shall underpromise and overdeliver. Let the America’s Cup be judged on its sporting merits. There should be more than enough.

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