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America's Cup economic impact below projections

  • Oracle Team USA crosses the finish line during the 18th race of the America's Cup sailing event against Emirates Team New Zealand on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

SAN FRANCISCO — The America's Cup sailing races this year generated far less economic activity in the San Francisco Bay Area than projected and have cost taxpayers more than $5 million, according to draft figures released Tuesday.

Figures from the Bay Area Council Economic Institute show the races generated at least $364 million in economic impact. That figure rises to $550 million if the construction of a new cruise ship terminal is factored in.

That is far below the $900 million projected just a few months before the races were set to begin and the $1.4 billion originally estimated in 2010.

2013 America's Cup

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Based on figures from Mayor Ed Lee's office, the races have cost city taxpayers more than $5 million so far, despite private fundraising and a boost in city tax revenue, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The numbers come as Lee prepares to submit a proposal by Dec. 22 to host the next Cup. In a statement, he said the races "showcased our beautiful city to the world and brought thousands of new jobs, long-overdue legacy waterfront improvements, international visitor spending, and a boost to our regional economy."

But Supervisor John Avalos said city money was better spent in outlying neighborhoods such as the one he represents, rather than its waterfront, which was spruced up for the races.

"A $5.5 million deficit, all for a yacht race for billionaires," Avalos said. "The whole event has been nothing more than a stupefying spectacle of how this city works for the top 1 percent on everyone else's dime."

The event faced numerous setbacks, including the death of Olympic gold medal-winning sailor Andrew "Bart" Simpson during a training run in May.

The $100 million price tag to compete in the race whittled down the list of competitors. Simpson's death raised concerns about the safety of the race.

Still, the finish was thrilling, with defending champion Oracle Team USA coming back from an 8-1 match deficit to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand.

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