The America’s Cup by the Numbers

Forget the boats. The real race is raising enough cash to make the thing worth hosting.


It sure is annoying when you plan a big party, line up the venue, and have expectations for a high turnout—only to have the regrets start rolling in. The 2013 America’s Cup (Larry Ellison Edition) has seen team after team forgo this year’s competition. As the 2010 winner, multi-billionaire Oracle founder Ellison won the right to choose the next venue and which type of boat would be raced—which makes him the face of this year’s races. He chose Oracle’s backyard, San Francisco, and picked the AC72, a revolutionary wing-sail catamaran that is extremely fast and extremely expensive, not to mention extremely dangerous.

Out of the 15 teams expected to race, 11 bowed out of this year’s Cup, due largely to the cost of commissioning one of the highly technical boats and hiring a team of competent and competitive sailors who actually know how to operate them. With so few rivals, some of the early races featured only one boat.

As a result, crowd projections are down 25 percent from 2010, and predicted race-related tax receipts for the City of San Francisco have been cut nearly in half. The Cup is still expected to benefit the Bay Area, though it’ll be a less impressive boon than originally forecast. And despite fundraisers’ assurances, it remains to be seen whether the city, which has sunk considerable resources into the races, will break even. Behold some of the numbers:

drop in attendence
Jobs down
Ouch
Taxpayers

If Oracle wins the America’s Cup, Ellison would have the right to choose the venue again next year. So when the dust settles, San Francisco may be in for another round.

Oracle boat photo credit: Jose C Silva/Flickr

City Hall photo credit: Alaskan Dude/Flickr

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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