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January 21, 2011 > Planning for 34th America's Cup under way

Planning for 34th America's Cup under way

By Paul Elias, Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP), Jan 18 - The America's Cup regatta is nearly two years away, but the planning and hyping of yachting's most prestigious event have already begun.

Newly appointed San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said Tuesday that he has created a committee of city officials to bring off the 34th race for the cup in late 2013.

Lee said hosting the America's Cup, which San Francisco was awarded last month, has the economic magnitude of several major sporting events because each racing team will set up a base along the San Francisco Bay many months before the weeklong event.

``It is several Super Bowls put together, strung out over time,'' said Lee, who put the city's Office of Economic and Workforce Development in charge of the municipal committee. ``This is not just a one-day event.''

Lee said during a news conference on one of the city piers that will be taken over for the race that he expects the event to boost the local economy by $1.4 billion and create 9,000 new jobs.

Officials are planning on using nine city piers and one two-acre lot, which could lead to the eviction of as many as 80 current tenants.

Officials with the Port of San Francisco, which serves as landlord to 600 businesses, said they are working to relocate the evicted businesses to vacancies elsewhere on the waterfront or in the city.

``We have tried to be very compassionate,'' said Brad Benson, manager of the Port's special projects. ``We are hopeful we can accommodate everyone.''

One of the businesses targeted for eviction, the dinner theater Teatro Zinzanni, is trying to convince city and race organizers that they need the popular San Francisco attraction to remain at its current home near Pier 27.

``They are going to have a need for entertainment like we provide,'' said Stanley Morris, one of Teatro Zinzanni's owners. ``We are hopeful they agree.''

San Francisco was picked to host the next America's Cup by Oracle Corp. Chief Executive Larry Ellison, a billionaire sailor who obtained the selection authority when his boat won the 33rd America's Cup last year off the coast of Valencia, Spain.

The next America's Cup contest will be the first time spectators can view the race from the shore, which organizers hope will spark increased interest in their sport.

Mark Buell, chair of a nonprofit committee of civic leaders that helped lure the contest to Northern California called San Francisco Bay ``the greatest stadium that God could create.''

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