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SF waterfront plans for America's Cup scaled back to avoid major pier renovation project

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POSTED February 27, 2012 7:37 p.m.

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Organizers of sailing's most prestigious event said Monday they are dramatically scaling back plans to renovate San Francisco's dilapidated waterfront.

Mayor Ed Lee made the announcement during a news conference at San Francisco's Pier 80, where software mogul Larry Ellison is building his space-age catamaran to defend the America's Cup trophy he won in 2010 off the coast of Spain. Ellison picked the San Francisco Bay as the location of the 34th race for the America's Cup, scheduled for September 2013.

After weeks of increasing tensions between the Board of Supervisors and Ellison's representatives over planning for the event, an agreement was reached over the weekend to scrap plans to turn the little-used piers 30 and 32 near San Francisco's downtown into the America's Cup publicly accessible "pit row" that would house racing teams challenging for the trophy.

Instead, all of the competitors will be housed at Pier 80, which Ellison has already spent a couple million dollars renovating. But the location is about two miles from the proposed "racing village" that is expected to serve as the event's hub. Pier 80 will still be open to the public, but organizers concede that it may require a bus ride instead of a walk from the racing village to visit.

Nonetheless, Lee and organizers insisted Monday that none of the 50 or so race days leading up to the final weekend of racing in September 2013 or the planned course around Alcatraz island in front of the city's skyline will change. The racing village planned at Piers 27-29 along the heart of the city's waterfront is continuing. The village will be converted into a cruise ship terminal after the America's Cup events.

Lee said the change was made after negotiators concluded they didn't have enough time to solve the financial, environmental and regulatory issues necessary to refurbish the piers in time for the challengers to move in and convert to their headquarters. Training runs can began on the Bay in July.

So far, three teams have formally entered the competition. Lead Ellison negotiator Stephen Barclay said he expects a few more teams to sign up before the June 1 deadline.

The announcement Monday prompted the postponement of a final Board of Supervisors vote on the financial agreement between the city and Ellison, which had been scheduled for Tuesday. No new date has been set for the board to consider the final agreement, which will have to be redrafted to drop the plans to renovate piers 30 and 32.

 

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