Richmond offers itself as pre-San Francisco interim site for America's Cup sailing event
By Katherine Tam
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 12/11/2010 02:36:45 PM PST
Updated: 12/11/2010 02:36:45 PM PST
Could Richmond become the interim venue for the next America's Cup while San Francisco readies its waterfront for the premier sailing regatta?
City leaders and sailing enthusiasts here hope so.
A marketing committee is offering space at the waterfront for America's Cup teams to practice and train for about a year, before activities shift to San Francisco -- if San Francisco succeeds in its bid to host the event.
Richmond's image and economy, from its restaurants to hardware stores to marine-related businesses, would reap the benefits of having the 10 teams here -- each with 100 people on staff -- and all the accompanying fanfare, supporters say.
"It doesn't cost us anything, and it would bring a ton of jobs to Richmond," said Kers Clausen, a member of the Richmond Yacht Club who is leading the proposal.
The city would receive revenue for leasing space at the port, possibly $100,000 a month.
Cup organizers plan to announce by year's end what city will host the 34th event, scheduled for 2013. San Francisco is in the running, a bid the Richmond marketing committee supports.
San Francisco has been told it will lose the right to host the next America's Cup unless a deal is signed by Friday.
Offering Richmond as an interim supplementary site would give San Francisco more time to make the necessary improvements to its piers and could strengthen San Francisco's quest to host the Cup, they said.
"It's going to take the city of San Francisco some time to complete their facility, and allowing them to use Terminal 3 would be a good interim use," said Mark Howe, an avid sailor and interim chairman of the marketing committee. "The prestige, the image, the ancillary benefit to businesses, it would provide a lot of activity and economic stimulation" for Richmond, he added.
The 20-acre Terminal 3 sits at the foot of Harbor Way South near the historic Ford Assembly Plant, now named Ford Point, and the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park. The terminal has been vacant since Matson, the previous shipping tenant, left a year ago.
A hardstand for the boats would be built and floats added, which would cost around $3 million. The cost would be borne by teams participating in the regatta, not by the city, Clausen said.
The City Council agrees the interim site idea is worth pursuing, both for the prestige of the Cup connection and for the revenue.
Terminal 3 "has been vacant and unused for a year," Councilman Tom Butt said. "There aren't a lot of people out there standing in line to use it. What this does is it authorizes them to go out and try to put together a marketing plan and do something with it. This may or may not be as lucrative as some other use, but if it gets $1 a day, it's better than what's there now."
The committee will try to negotiate a letter of intent with the America's Cup organizers and other stakeholders. The letter would be nonbinding, meaning the port's hands won't be tied if it can secure a long-term tenant for Terminal 3 that would bring steady revenue.
Committee members include Clausen, Howe, other members of the Richmond Yacht Club, Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bob Connelly, Richmond Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Michelle Itagaki, City Manager Bill Lindsay, Community Economic Development Director Steve Duran and Port Director Jim Matzorkis.
Katherine Tam covers Richmond. Follow her at Twitter.com/katherinetam.