The America’s Cup by the Numbers

Forget the boats. The real race is raising enough cash to make the thing worth hosting.


It sure is annoying when you plan a big party, line up the venue, and have expectations for a high turnout—only to have the regrets start rolling in. The 2013 America’s Cup (Larry Ellison Edition) has seen team after team forgo this year’s competition. As the 2010 winner, multi-billionaire Oracle founder Ellison won the right to choose the next venue and which type of boat would be raced—which makes him the face of this year’s races. He chose Oracle’s backyard, San Francisco, and picked the AC72, a revolutionary wing-sail catamaran that is extremely fast and extremely expensive, not to mention extremely dangerous.

Out of the 15 teams expected to race, 11 bowed out of this year’s Cup, due largely to the cost of commissioning one of the highly technical boats and hiring a team of competent and competitive sailors who actually know how to operate them. With so few rivals, some of the early races featured only one boat.

As a result, crowd projections are down 25 percent from 2010, and predicted race-related tax receipts for the City of San Francisco have been cut nearly in half. The Cup is still expected to benefit the Bay Area, though it’ll be a less impressive boon than originally forecast. And despite fundraisers’ assurances, it remains to be seen whether the city, which has sunk considerable resources into the races, will break even. Behold some of the numbers:

drop in attendence
Jobs down
Ouch
Taxpayers

If Oracle wins the America’s Cup, Ellison would have the right to choose the venue again next year. So when the dust settles, San Francisco may be in for another round.

Oracle boat photo credit: Jose C Silva/Flickr

City Hall photo credit: Alaskan Dude/Flickr

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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