America's Cup Fundraising is Floundering -- Taxpayers on Hook

The organizers of the 34th America's Cup are behind on their financial obligations to San Francisco.

By Chris Roberts
|  Monday, Jun 13, 2011  |  Updated 2:41 PM PDT
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America's Cup Fundraising is Floundering -- Taxpayers on Hook

The America's Cup Trophy sails into town.

What if they held a billionaires' yacht race -- and nobody ponied up the promised cash?

That possibility is becoming reality for San Francisco taxpayers, who will be on the hook for $32 million in extra costs associated with hosting the 34th America's Cup unless, that is, unless a group of fundraisers can deliver on a promise to raise cash. And so far, the America's Cup Organizing Committee is floundering.

The committee has raised only $2 million in cash so far, according to the San Francisco Examiner. The city will spend $12 million on planning the Cup this year alone, meaning if the committee cannot deliver, the city's budget will take an immediate hit.

San Francisco was chosen to host the prestigious yacht race by billionaire Larry Ellison, whose team holds the cup, last year, after a lengthy and contentious debate.

One of the selling points for San Francisco to host the America's Cup was that it would come at no cost to taxpayers. That promise will be kept, according to Kyri McClellan, a former staffer for Mayor Gavin Newsom who now heads up the Committee.

Fundraising will hit a high gear as soon as the committee is officially declared a nonprofit sometime this year, the newspaper reported.

"I have every confidence we will meet our obligations," McClellan said, guaranteeing that the committee will raise $12 million this year, and $20 million in the years after that for the full $32 million.

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