After an exciting America's Cup finish, San Francisco tallies its score

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Larry Ellison and Oracle Team USA celebrate victory yesterday.
Mike Koozmin

When Oracle Team USA completed a stunning comeback yesterday to retain the America’s Cup, winning eight consecutive races, it was indeed a big sporting moment. It even had us skeptics at the Bay Guardian, who had already expressed sympathies for the Kiwi team, anxiously following the action. But the question remains whether this overhyped sailing competition will be a win for the host city of San Francisco.

That verdict won’t come in until November when race organizers and city officials finish collecting and counting revenues and expenditures related to the regatta. But it’s certain to be better from a fiscal perspective than it looked like a week ago, when the New Zealand team seemed to be headed for a blowout victory.   

For Larry Ellison — Oracle co-founder, team owner, lead champion for the AC-72 cause and de facto face of the 34th America's Cup — it must have felt like a disaster. His $100-plus million nautical investment was tanking, attendance and revenue figures were falling far short of expectations and the support he had from the local sailing community was quickly turning malignant after Oracle lost the day's only race, falling to 1-8 and facing seven consecutive match-points. 

But then Oracle started winning. They figured out the tricky upwind legs that had plagued them for the first two weeks of racing. They replaced their fired tactician with four-time Olympic gold medal winner Ben Ainslie. They started beating the snot out of Team New Zealand and in the races they were losing, Mother Nature would toss them lifesavers disguised as strange patches of wind. 

After weeks of fumbling, it looked like the moles had found their own mallet and were whacking away at their tormentors, and they were doing so to the tune of an unprecedented winning streak. And with it, the America's Cup image underwent a radical transformation; both in sport and in reception. 

The change in sport is simple — both teams have figured out how to race the 13-story tall sailboats through the unpredictable weather patterns and intense ebb tides —but the change in reception is anything but. As of last Wednesday, Pier 27 was dominated by Team New Zealand supporters. Nearly everyone in attendance was waving a New Zealand flag or wearing one, and the few Oracle fans left seemed to be nothing more than lost tourists who stumbled upon the international event.

But support for Oracle steadily grew during their winning streak -- Americans do love a winner -- and now it looks like support for the event has been as well, something that can be attributed both to Oracle's winning streak and the necessity for Kiwi fans to finally go home after over a month of competition.

As four-time Cup attendee Sonny Shaw told the Guardian, "I  had to change my flight and pay a lot of money, about 400 US dollars at this stage, to stay till [Tuesday]. I was hoping it would be finished by Monday." 

As it was every single Kiwi in the park. But the numbers are representative of this trend: As of Sept. 18, according to Cup organizers, the gates had drawn just 700,000 of the 2 million anticipated attendees. Ellison and his team had raised $16.5 million of the $20 million needed to offset the city’s costs (with a reported $14 million going toward the reimbursement), and broadcasts were drawing about 1 million viewers domestically, which meant that the Cup was failing to deliver on virtually all of its promises.  

But the extra race days have drummed up interest both in the competition and in the precariously perched Oracle Team USA. The crowds — by the end ostensibly split between Emirates and Oracle as each passing day thins out the Kiwi crowds — became far larger, more raucous and more star-spangled. 

The decks were packed, the cheers are both loud and informed, and the local venom present for the first week-and-a-half of racing is at a minimum. 

Even expectations might be met. The overall goal of 2 million attendees still seems downright impossible, but as of Monday evening, 926,000 official attendees had been counted, not including those who watched the race outside of officially designated areas (up 226,000 in less than a week, according to Cup officials). In addition to the attendance spike, the 6,500 jobs that were created for the event are still paying out and the extra time only increases the likelihood that the full $20 million bill the City was expected to foot will be offset by private funds.

It was a helluva ride, San Francisco. Was it worth it? We’ll see.

Comments

loss or a small gain (and it will be small either way). It's about the honor and prestige of holding a world-class event for the best in the world, and putting SF on the map as a place where we can put on a great spectacle for the pickiest of people - the world's super-rich.

And we did that in spades, and won for the US too. It doesn't get any better than that, so no griping please. Just for once rejoice in excellence rather than wallowing in misery and mediocrity.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 2:40 pm

And it would have been a far bigger hit to the gut, and to our wallets, had Ellison gotten the Board to approve the original plan to hand him a huge section of our most valuable public waterfront property.

So no. Sorry. Pleasing the persnickety super rich is not part of my game plan.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

issue. We won fair and square in the end. And it's not like New Zealand wasn't a super-rich team either - they were back by Middle-East money.

You may wish to ignore the most successful people in the world but most of us are happy that the world's greatest and richest came here and were given a fabulous welcome. Petty envy has no place and in fact that is what sports events are all about.

The city will probably make a profit when you include all indirect revenues as well but, as noted, that really isn't the point. As a SF'er, I am honored and thrilled that this event took place here, that it was a world-class event, and that the "local boy made good" triumphed.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:21 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

As Peskin said, it is now San Diego's turn to spend money cheering up a billionaire and his hobby.

Posted by Guest Lecturer on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

The rich don't hate the poor. In fact, they give them jobs, lend them money and provide the vast majority of the taxes that fund their services.

I've never understood envy. It's an ugly emotion.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

I've never understood stupidity. You have never understood anything.

Posted by San Francisco Anti-Stupidity Campaign on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 7:51 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:23 pm

The rich don't hate the poor (because they don't have to, they can just exploit them and pit them against each other). In fact, they give them jobs (mostly low paying and part time), lend them money (at highly profitable interest rates) and provide the vast majority of the taxes (a decreasing percentage every year) that fund their services (without which there would be fighting in the streets).

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:26 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:32 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

That's why nobody listens to Peskin's chirping. He left the BOS almost 6 years ago and his biggest accomplishment in the interim is running a Progressive DCCC into the ground.

San Diego would kill for the 2017 cup. The government of New Zealand invested $36 million in an effort to get it.

By the SFBG's own numbers the worst case downside for San Francisco is $4 million. Meanwhile, about a million people, many of them visitors, were down at the waterfront spending money.

All of the city's hotel rooms were booked last week because of Ellison. There were 60K people at the Oracle convention in addition to the America's cup.

Next time you look something up on the internet you can thank Larry Ellison for the way that Oracle advanced data base design. Not sure what you can thank Peskin for, if anything.

So which one is the real folly? The incredibly successful guy who just created millions in tourism revenue for the city or the one who sits and chirps in the dark?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:06 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:20 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

Too bad that some SF'ers prefer a whiner to a doer.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 5:09 am

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

I wish they'd lost and I hope they wont be back.

ps -- might want to search out this sentence and re-appraise it for completeness, as it does not appear to be: "As it was every single Kiwi in the park."

Posted by lillipublicans on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

result, then I have no problem with that. there is no rule or law that says that public ownership or stewardship is always better and, judging by some of the abandoned rotting piers that are owned by the city, I'd say the private sector can often do a better job.

Why can't you be happy for Ellison and America? Or is that envy just eating you up more than normal today?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 5:06 pm
Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

I am a non-sailor...and now I am hooked. The boats were video-game-like, the sailors dressed as though they were the Borg, the "ships" drove faster than anything ever seen at the AC before, and the Cup was played out against the magnificent Bay of San Francisco. I was one of the few local attendees and I was there nearly every day, missing only two races. I'd like it to stay in the City and call it the California Cup, but if Larry takes it to Hawaii, I hope he makes it as user-friendly. Cheaper and much safer than a 49er game.

But I really want to send a shout-out to the AC workers. This is the Bay Area, where there are literally thousands of jobs that can't be filled because of the amount of power our economy is generating. Yet the workers were top-line professional. They moved like digitized units...even the AC stores managed to get long lines completed in less than eight minutes. Impressed. If the Cup becomes our theme park, so be it.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:28 pm

I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility. When Oracle was down 8-1 or whatever, their chances of winning at that point were statistically about 1%. Clearly something happened that wasn't random. The two pertinent questions to ask are:
1. Could he?
2. And if he could, would he?

The second is easily answered. He already did. So yes, he would. He's that kind of guy. But of course. He's a billionaire corporate tycoon. Are there any of those who actually play by the rules?

The first is the big question. Well, he did it once. He got caught. Maybe the team suddenly, magically found a way to whip itself into shape. Or maybe Ellison just found a way to cheat and not get caught. When you have the motive, and unlimited amounts of money to spend, anything is possible.

I guess we'll never know. We will, however, know how much this fiasco cost the city soon enough.

Posted by Greg on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

and that when oracle was down 8-1 it was just a reality show style fiction to make it all more exciting

they had made such a mess of the thing that they needed to pump up the excitement somehow

the obvious way to do that was to just fix the whole 'competition' from day one

just like boxing

can't wait to see the 'documentary'...

Posted by racer x on Sep. 26, 2013 @ 9:59 pm

conjecture of cheating. They just state it because they want it to be true, because they do not like a successful person being, well, successful.

And of course neither of them know anything about sailing anyway. They just thought they'd spread rumors to try and score a cheap political point.

Well, too bad, the judges said there was no cheating beyond the one technical infraction, Team America won, everyone made money and the world goes on.

Misery loves company and you two should get a room.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 5:12 am

This could wind up being a Lance Armstrong type of case, where subsequent findings years down the line could show that he cheated, and strip him of his wins. Given Ellison's history, this win will forever be tainted.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 7:53 am

the "once a felon, always a felon" rule, he was clearly committing felonies on the BART train and resisting arrest, thereby fully deserving whatever level of restraint the attending officers deemed prudent.

Once a wife-beater, always a wife-beater, so it's clear that Ross "the hand" Mirkarimi assaulted his wife multiple times and continues to do so.

Ooh, I like this new game. Let's play it some more.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:12 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:46 am

Because it can be used to allege almost anything you want regardless of veracity.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 9:58 am

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:30 pm

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:48 am

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

is they think there is something secret going on.

They spin out nonsense everyday about everything, they never seem to keep track of their deep ideas that they spin out every day.

There is no proving a negative, and spewing conspiracy idiocy is never a traceable, offense... so in two months when this is all long gone Racer_X/Glenparkdaddy/troll#1 will have moved onto some other crazy idiocy. And will believe that moronic stupidity just as much.

Posted by Matlock on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 5:56 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 6:11 pm

they cheated and yes hopefully down the track it will be another Lance Armstrong case, did you know that the New Zealand taxpayers contributed $35 million into TNZ campaign, so that makes Oracles cheating even more despicable

Posted by whocares on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 11:43 am

But, like Greg and Racer, you want to believe that and so you decide to believe that regardless of the facts.

I think NZ is a cute little country but they are playing with the big guys now.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 27, 2013 @ 12:09 pm

Any evidence that they were bribed or blackmailed?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:31 am

Nobody reasonably expects that the New Zealand team would disgrace their nation by throwing the race.

This is a board for Progressives. When their side loses, either an election or a boat race, the winning side has to have cheated. That's just the way they think, and it also helps explain why they keep losing.

Posted by Troll on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 7:45 am

Except that Oracle did indeed cheat and NZ did not cheat.

Posted by marcos on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 8:04 am

that favored NZ.

There is zero evidence that Oracle cheated beyond that, and you are merely suggesting that because you don't like Ellison and not because you have any proof.

As troll noted, Progressives have a habit of always accusing a winner of cheating or fraud or "buying" a result. You're just continuing the same predicatable scurrilous trend.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 8:28 am

as you may recall this part of the thread started when we replied to point out the obvious to some fool who said Oracle brought us 'prestige'

because Oracle cheated, Ellison clearly brought us shame, not prestige

it doesn't matter how many fucking times he cheated, or how many points were given, or even who the fuck won the race

the point is that Ellison brought his tawdry, frat boy style, cheap-ass, win at any cost pathetic attitude to san francisco

and it is not welcome here

Posted by racer x on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:39 am

this is simply a troll barrier

it is a signpost to indicate to the reader that other anonymous posters on this thread are beginning to purposely diminish the conversation into reactionary hyperbole and/or petty, mean spirited, personal attacks and irrelevant bickering

the barrier is put in place to signal that there is probably little point in reading more replies in the thread past this point

proceed at your own risk

Posted by troll barrier on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 9:47 am

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

troll bumper

Posted by troll bumper on Sep. 28, 2013 @ 3:51 pm

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