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Ellison Team Issues Ultimatum on America's Cup Bid

The American team's BMW Oracle races in the America's Cup at the Cowes Week Regatta 2010 on Aug. 4, 2010 on the Isle of Wight, England
The American team's BMW Oracle races in the America's Cup at the Cowes Week Regatta 2010 on Aug. 4, 2010 on the Isle of Wight, England
City told to approve more expensive regatta plan by Friday or lose the event

America's Cup organizers led by billionairre Larry Ellison set a deadline of Friday for San Francisco to sign a deal to host the next regatta -- and demanded that the city agree to a $128 million alternative that was recently rejected in favor of a cheaper option.

in a Dec. 10 letter signed by BMW Oracle Racing Chief Operating Officer Stephen Barclay, The Golden Gate Yacht Club, which sponsors the team, criticized a deal that the cash-strapped city is poised to approve that would shift race operations further north than originally planned in order to reduce public costs.

"The status as at today is that we do not have an alternative Host City Agreement that stacks up financially for the Event Authority, but the possibility to have one remains available," Barclay wrote. "If we do not have San Francisco’s signed bid by not later than close of business on December 17, then the City will be deemed to have withdrawn itself from contention."

Under the so-called Northern Waterfront Alternative, the team would not be given long-term development rights it sought at Pier 50, which is south of AT&T Park and is occupied by maritime and industrial tenants that would need to be evicted to make way for race operations and subsequent redevelopment activities.

The team's opposition to the Northern Waterfront Alternative contradicts earlier statements by Barclay in a Nov. 8 letter. In that letter, Barclay praised the Northern Waterfront Alternative as being potentially superior but said there was insufficient time to fully vet the proposal.

In an effort to reduce public costs, city leaders forged ahead with plans for the Northern Waterfront Alternative anyway, and they are scheduled to be debated and potentially approved by the Board of Supervisors this week before lawmakers take a holiday break.

In response to Barclay, the Port of San Francisco and Mayor Gavin Newsom's economic development office defended the Northern Waterfront Alternative and lauded the city's potential to host an exciting and successful event.

"The waterfront is a civic treasure, and successful waterfront development must therefore recognize the public nature of the waterfront," the city officials wrote. "We are confident that if we work together, we can succeed."

The team's credibility in negotiations with San Francisco is questionable. It previously told city leaders that cities or ports in two other nations had offered hundreds of millions of euros in a bid to secure rights to thost the event.

With less than a week before San Francisco's newly imposed deadline passes, neither of those bids appear to have been submitted, although Barclay in his letter said the team had shown city officials documents proving other bids existed.

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