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December 31, 2012

Rough Sailing Ahead for America’s Cup

Watch San Francisco's Uncertain Economic Hopes for America's Cup on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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Every few years since 1851, sailors from around the world have competed for the America’s Cup. Larry Ellison, founder of software giant Oracle, won the last Cup in 2010, and therefore got to choose the location of the next Cup. He chose to return the Cup to his home town, San Francisco, for the 2013 race.

However, America’s Cup is not just about sailing, it is supposed to be an economic boom to the host city.

In order to prepare for the competition, the host city typically spends money to develop its waterfront areas, generating jobs and money. Ellison made a deal with San Francisco so that he would get the development rights to some old piers along the bay in return to renovating those piers for the city. After crunching the numbers, the city determined that development plans would bring $1.4 billion worth of economic benefit to the area and 9,000 jobs.

However, when Cup organizers decided that the pier development would be too costly, they decided to scrap those plans. The race preparations are still going forward though, and organizers are looking forward to a race that they say is “going to be bigger and better than it’s been in a generation.”

For sailing fans, and some who are not, the prospects of international competition and just the chance to watch the big boats glide through the fog and into the wind is reason enough to support the race.


“The America’s Cup coming to a city is all about the economics. And San Francisco did its own numbers, and they said it was going to bring $1.4 billion worth of economic benefit here and 9,000 jobs,” – Steven Barclay, America’s Cup.

Warm up questions

1. What are some sports that don’t get as much attention as Football, Basketball and Baseball?

2. Why do cities want to host sporting events?

Discussion questions

1. What would you have to study to become a sailboat designer?

2. Now that organizers have decided not to renovate the waterfront, do you think it is worth it for San Francisco to host the competition?

3. Besides development, how do you think major sports competitions bring money to the host city?

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