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Politics

Despite Economic Shortfall, SF Mayor Lee Would Welcome America’s Cup Return

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Crowds watch Race 14 of the America's Cup at America's Cup Park on the San Francisco waterfront. (Getty Images)

Crowds watch Race 14 of the America’s Cup at America’s Cup Park on the San Francisco waterfront. (Getty Images)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Despite issues which ran the gamut from the death of a sailor during a practice run to cheating scandals to financial shortfalls because of teams dropping out, San Francisco’s mayor said Wednesday he would welcome the America’s Cup event again.

Economists estimate the event will still fall far short of the $1 billion economic boon first predicted, but that the America’s Cup will still end up an economic success.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke with KCBS in an interview ahead of Oracle Team USA’s defeat of Emirates Team New Zealand in the final race Wednesday to retain the America’s Cup.

“I have to say unequivocally these races will help the city. We’ve got a million people that have come down to the various venues along the waterfront. I think the excitement is very high,” said Lee.

Lee continued and said the infrastructural investments and projects that came along with the America’s Cup race were all a good idea. One of those included a cruise ship terminal on the waterfront.

“I think that cruise ship terminal is going to be not only a big positive for the cruise ships that come in, but the venue is going to be used time and time again for all kinds of events.”

Lee added that the establishment of the city’s first youth sailing center was part of the deal and that small merchants along Fisherman’s Wharf want more of these types of “improvements” to happen.

Lee acknowledged the America’s Cup failed to meet its fundraising goal, but that the city also paid less to host the event as things changed.

“Originally we had anticipated some $30 million in cost to the city. Because the crowds were not as large and the number of country participants weren’t as large, all the pressures that were going to be on our port, police and transportation services and traffic congestion, really didn’t appear,” he said.

Lee argued the overall city cost would be “substantially reduced” since those services weren’t needed in its budged capacity.

“I believe we’ll get close to balancing this by the end of the year when we have all the numbers come in.”

Finally, Lee said he would welcome the race back if Oracle were to retain the cup, despite some of the criticisms the race has faced.

“The real thing here is what kind of deal we want to make to make sure we’re a little more accurate about what the costs are,” he said calling the process a learning experience and that next time it would be marketed better.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

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