The America's Cup meltdown


The America's Cup Event Authority -- the operation that Oracle CEO Larry Ellison set up to run the business side of his personal yacht race -- is melting down, laying off half its staff and scrambling around for new leadership as projected revenues continue to slide and the ultimate size and impact of the event remains in question.

The once-glorious event that was going to be almost as big as the Super Bowl and the World Cup is now shrinking, and the billions of dollars that were going to come in are looking more and more dubious. Doesn't mean it won't happen; the races will go on, because Ellison's pride is involved, but attendance may be lower than expected.

And the net gain to the city could be limited. A new report by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose (pdf) notes that if the America's Cup Organizing Committee doesn't raise the $32 million that it's supposed to dredge up, then the city could wind up losing $11 million on the deal.

Here's the problem with that scenario: Mark Buell, the head fundraiser for the ACOC, has to go to rich people and ask them for money. But the really rich person behind this event, Mr. Ellison, hasn't chipped in a penny to that fund -- and now it appears that money raised by sponsorships will go to pay Ellison back for the money's he's spent on his racing team.

Poor Mark. He has to ask people for money to subsidize the sixth richest person on the planet. And if he can't pull it off, the city ends up with the tab.

Good luck with that.

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