PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) — Rhode Island’s top economic development official said Sunday that representatives of BMW Oracle Racing and Golden Gate Yacht Club have expressed an interest in holding the next America’s Cup in Newport but haven’t made a final decision.
Newport is vying with San Francisco for the right to host the world’s most prestigious sailing competition in 2013.
Negotiators have spent the last week in Rhode Island, and the state economic development corporation’s executive director, Keith Stokes, told The Associated Press on Sunday that “everything we’ve presented has resonated very strongly with them.”
Stokes said he would present to the EDC board on Monday a letter from America’s Cup negotiators expressing an interest in holding the event in Newport, about 30 miles south of Providence, and hammering out an agreement with the state. He declined to release the letter ahead of the meeting but said he would be joined by GGYC board member Tom Ehman.
“I think we’ve come up with several options that are pretty compelling,” Stokes said. “Newport’s simply just gone out and played its best game.”
Software mogul Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle Racing won back the trophy for the United States last February when his team swept Alinghi of Switzerland off Valencia, Spain.
San Francisco was announced in July as the only U.S. city under consideration to host the 34th America’s Cup. But Newport, which hosted the race from 1930 until 1983 and is nicknamed The City by the Sea, got another shot this month when San Francisco’s bid appeared to falter because of a contract deemed too financially risky for the America’s Cup Event Authority, which has been contracted by the GGYC to run the regatta. San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday passed a revised host agreement, but the GGYC hasn’t accepted it.
Gov.-elect Lincoln Chafee believes Newport is the natural site for the America’s Cup but it will be important to weigh the costs of hosting the competition against the required infrastructure improvements, his spokesman Mike Trainor said.
Stokes has said that hosting the racing in Colonial-era Newport could require as little as $10 million in improvements, a small fraction of what changes would cost in San Francisco. Newport’s proposal has centered on Fort Adams State Park, which offers panoramic views of Newport Harbor.
Stokes said hosting the event in Rhode Island, whose 11.6 percent unemployment rate is among the highest in the nation, would have an enormous financial impact.
“If this event does come to Rhode Island, it will be one of the largest events of its kind,” Stokes said. “An event of this scale in a small state this size would have more of an economic impact than any state in the nation.”
A venue decision is due by Dec. 31. Italy also has submitted a bid.
Ellison’s Oracle Corp. is based south of San Francisco. The billionaire owns a mansion in Newport.