Bermuda in running to host America’s Cup
Bermuda is in the running to host one of the most prestigious sporting competitions in the world after being shortlisted as a potential venue for the 2017 America's Cup.
And if the Island's bid is successful, the sailing event could pump millions of dollars into the local economy, and create thousands of jobs.
A team headed by Economic Development Minister Grant Gibbons submitted a bid to hold the event after being approached by organising body, the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), earlier this year. The submission was kept heavily under wraps by sailing and Government officials.
However, last night it was confirmed that, following a visit by an ACEA inspection team in March, the Island is one of just four locations vying to host the 2017 competition. San Diego in California is also on the shortlist although it is unclear which two other destinations have been selected, with Chicago and Hawaii being touted as possible rivals.
Announcing the development, Premier Craig Cannonier said that the event represented “a great opportunity for Bermuda on many levels”.
“The America's Cup is a spectacular sporting event attracting worldwide attention, generating business, jobs and extensive television exposure for the host location,” Mr Cannonier said.
“It is a great opportunity to showcase Bermuda on the world stage — our people, our Island, our rich maritime heritage, our way of life.
“I want to commend the work of the bid team put together by Dr Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Education and Economic Development. They worked fast and hard to put together an impressive bid document in a short period of time. Their work will continue as we continue to pursue this remarkable opportunity.”
Bermuda's bid team included private sector representatives and the Bermuda Tourism Authority.
“The team worked flat out for three weeks to put together an extraordinary bid document that we submitted to the authority,” Dr Gibbons said last night.
“We were subsequently informed that Bermuda had been moved to the second round in which our bid would be considered against three other locations.
“Our team is now in the process of working with the America's Cup Event Authority to secure corporate sponsorships, which are a prime requirement in determining the successful final bid.”
The America's Cup is held every three, four or five years and features the world's top sailors competing in a series of up to 17 races in state-of-the-art yachts.
Last year the event was held in San Francisco creating 3,800 jobs, and ploughing $550-million into the city.
“Hosting the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco 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,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said.
“Our investment brought in significant revenue to the city and the lessons we learned will help us deliver even better world-class events in the Bay Area in the future.”
Last night Dr Gibbons said the America's Cup interest in Bermuda was an extraordinary honour, reflecting the many attributes that make the Island highly regarded within the global sailing community.
“I was proud of the fact that our submission made clear that our bid was coming from the Island as a whole, not just a town or city, and that Bermuda's history showed our ability as a people to unite behind historical moments, and opportunities,” he said.
“Our bid addressed Bermuda's attributes for hosting such an event, and highlighted the Island's maritime heritage, including the fact that the Bermuda rig revolutionised sailing, and continues in use today.
“It was a presentation, in short, that emphasised the fact that Bermuda is an island with a proud maritime legacy, providing a spectacular setting for such an international event.
“The Premier and I look forward to keeping Bermuda updated on the work to secure this extraordinary opportunity.”
Reacting to the news, Bermuda Sailing Association past president Tim Patton said: “This is the pinnacle of professional sailboat racing, the sailing equivalent of football's World Cup — it's huge, and if we get it, huge for Bermuda.”
Mr Patton said the event typically brings in scores of elite sailors, plus hundreds more back room staff and organisers, and potentially thousands of spectators. And with a global television audience of millions, the America's Cup draws in wealthy entrepreneurs and sponsors
“There are enormous economic benefits to hosting the America's Cup,” Mr Patton said, adding that the event would give Bermuda global media exposure.
Olympic sailor Peter Bromby said the prospect of hosting the premier event here as “fantastic news”.
He said that the event would raise Bermuda's already well-established profile within the yachting community, and bring in hundreds of competitors and spectators.
“In terms of exposure, I can't think of anything that would give us better coverage,” he said.
“This has the potential to bring in a great deal of income, which out tourism industry desperately needs.”
In the coming months, ACEA will narrow the selection to just two possible locations, with a final decision being announced in September. If Bermuda is successful in being selected as one of two final locations, it will be assured a World Series event, which is part of the challenger series for the Cup, regardless of whether it is ultimately successful in its bid to host the finals.