SAN DIEGO -- America's Cup officials are talking with other venues about hosting the 35th America's Cup because San Francisco officials haven't offered the same terms they did for last summer's regatta, which ended with Oracle Team USA staging one of the greatest comebacks in sports history.
Last week, port commissioners voted unanimously to submit a bid to host the America's Cup on San Diego Bay in August 2017.
San Diego "definitely is one of the venues that seems to be ticking quite a lot of boxes," Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts said by phone last week from the British Virgin Islands, where he's attending a regatta in the RC44 class. "It'd be a really good venue."
Coutts said the plan is to eliminate two or three potential venues in the next month or so, then negotiate host city agreements with two ports. One of those ports would be a backup. Officials also are looking at venues to host the challenger eliminations and the America's Cup World Series warm-up regatta.
Coutts, who skippered Team New Zealand to a 5-0 win against Dennis Conner off San Diego in 1995, said the process could stretch into the summer. The only other confirmed potential venue is Hawaii. While not confirmed, it's believed Long Beach and Newport, R.I., also are in the mix.
San Diego hosted the America's Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995, with racing on the Pacific Ocean off Point Loma.
The 34th America's Cup on San Francisco Bay was contested in 72-foot, wing-sailed catamarans that rode up on hydrofoils, with both hulls completely out of the water. It was the first America's Cup sailed inshore rather than miles out to sea.
While last summer's regatta gave the staid old America's Cup a remarkable adrenaline rush, it generated less economic impact in the Bay Area than projected and cost city taxpayers more than $5 million.
Port commissioner Marshall Merrifield said San Diego has more to offer than San Francisco.
"We have much better stadium sailing viewing," he said. "People in Berkeley cannot see these like the folks in Coronado can."
Said Coutts, a five-time America's Cup winner: "I think the racecourse in San Diego, quite frankly, sets up better than San Francisco."
Merrifield also said the port has more control over the services the America's Cup officials are looking for.
Negotiations in San Francisco have perhaps reached the point of no return. America's Cup officials want free rent for piers, as well as have police, fire and other services provided. They're also opposed to paying the equivalent of union wages for construction work.
America's Cup officials are requesting free use of piers and fire, police and other services in San Diego, according to a presentation last Tuesday by SEA San Diego. The group organized an America's Cup World Series regatta in November 2011 and a regatta in the RC44 class in March 2011, both on the bay.
If San Diego is chosen for the America's Cup, Oracle Team USA would move its base there in mid-2016.