What a difference two weeks make. Not long ago, America's Cup CEO Russell Coutts was quoted as saying that "chances are good" that the America's Cup yacht races would return to San Francisco. He had all but promised himself and his many boats to the City by the Bay. And, like poor fools, we believed his empty words.
Now, like the ingenue of a Henry James novella, a trip to Europe has turned him into a shameless hussy, throwing himself at any accented suitor who appears with a bottle of pastis and a map of some ruins. Just this weekend, Coutts said that the America's Cup could very well be held in San Diego or Hawaii or another tarted up seaside villa, rather than in San Francisco. He said of SF that, "They might have a change of heart. I don't think they will."
The sticking point is the terms of the contract. Coutts and his boss, Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, are holding out for identical terms as last summer's races, which ended up costing the city at least $5 million, despite early projections that it would make money by hosting the races. Though he didn't get into specifics of the negotiations, Coutts did state that, "it's safe to say I'm not happy" about the city's current offer.
Were the America's Cup races not to return to San Francisco, leading contenders to host them would include San Diego, in which races took place in 1988, 1992, and 1995, and Hawaii, where Ellison recently bought 98% of the island of Lanai and is friends with Governor Neil Abercrombie. Coutts did say that he would prefer for the next cycle of races to be fought with 60-foot ships rather than the controversial and expensive AC-72s that kept many teams on the sidelines in San Francisco.