Front Street traffic closure during AC
Front Street will be closed to traffic for a weekend in October to host a street festival during the America's Cup World Series.
While the event will likely effect commuters coming in and out of the city, Mayor Charles Gosling asked the public to look beyond the inconvenience to see the benefits of the event.
A spokesman for the ACBDA confirmed that Front Street will be closed to traffic on Friday, October 16, reopening on the evening of Sunday, October 18, so a street festival can be held while the Island hosts the next in the America's Cup World Series.
The spokesman also noted that while the road will be closed to traffic, service and emergency vehicles will still have access to the area.
Asked about the road closure, Mr Gosling said: “Obviously it's going to have an impact on the commuters and anybody that has any dealings with the city, particularly during the commuter traffic time.
“I just really hope that the public prepare in time for this, making the appropriate changes to how they travel, whether that means heading out a little earlier or using the ferry system, for those living in the west end.
“I would ask the public to take this sacrifice in good spirits because I believe that this will have a tremendous positive impact on the Island in terms of visitors, as well as the providing something for the locals who are hopefully able to enjoy the events of the weekend.
“This is not only going to benefit the restaurants and retailers on Front Street. We are also going to have all sorts of vendors from all across the Island and if some people want to avoid Front Street because of all the activity, they are going to spend their money in other areas, so I think it will provide a broad stroke of the economic brush that will benefit the entire Island over the weekend.”
In addition to a boost of visitors for the specific event, Mr Gosling said the international coverage of the America's Cup World Series will provide the Island with international attention, noting the coverage Portsmouth received while hosting the first in the series last month.
Despite wet weather forcing the cancellation of one day of racing, the four-day Portsmouth event reportedly drew about 250,000 spectators.
Bermuda Chamber of Commerce executive director Kendaree Burgess said the organisation had been informed about the closure, which they compared to those during Harbour Nights.
“The America's Cup organisers have communicated the plans for the closure and together we, the AC organisers, the City of Hamilton, and the chamber are working together to insure access for all necessary services. Overall we expect to see increased trade for local businesses during that time and look forward to showcasing the best Bermuda has to offer.”
Christopher Garland, chair of the Chamber's restaurant division, added: “Any event that takes place on Front Street has a positive impact on restaurant sales and the general atmosphere.
“We are all thankful for the new Chamber-sponsored October Lights street festival in October and the AC World Series, both will extend the normal summer sales into the traditional shoulder months.“
Restaurateur Phillip Barnett also said he was excited about the coming event and the impact it will have in Hamilton and he didn't believe the street closure would negatively impact business.
“I think if it's anything like Harbour Nights we don't have any issues,” he said.
“The more excitement there is, the more collaboration there is and the more people are willing to make these small sacrifices the better the event is going to be.”
The World Series is a racing circuit featuring the best sailors in the world, competing on 45ft one-design wing-sail foiling catamarans in advance of the 35th America's Cup, which will take place in Bermuda in 2017.
Featuring all of the America's Cup teams the series is an early opportunity to earn points that will count towards the America's Cup qualifiers and play-offs, which will ultimately determine the eventual challenger for the America's Cup.
The next event in the series is set to be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, home of Artemis Racing, from August 28 to 30, with the series coming to Bermuda in October. Organisers had originally planned to stage four World Series events this year.
However, the withdrawal of Italian team Luna Rossa resulted in the proposed curtain-raiser in Cagliari being cancelled.
Four to six World Series events are expected in 2016, including a return to Portsmouth in July and a regatta in Chicago during the summer.