Financial windfall: The America’s Cup was worth an estimated $346 million to San Francisco and Dr Grant Gibbons says that Bermuda’s hotels, restaurants, retail stores and transportation industry would all benefit from the crowds and sailors who would be here for the event. *AFP photo
Financial windfall: The America’s Cup was worth an estimated $346 million to San Francisco and Dr Grant Gibbons says that Bermuda’s hotels, restaurants, retail stores and transportation industry would all benefit from the crowds and sailors who would be here for the event. *AFP photo

Bermuda could reap a financial windfall if it gets to host the 2017 America’s Cup.

In 2013, San Francisco saw an estimated $346 million for hosting team Oracle’s successful defence of the Cup.

That would be equal to 30 Newport Bermuda races.

The total expenditures in Bermuda on boats and personal travel/hospitality by the 2012 Newport Bermuda fleet came to an estimated $11.7 million.

Dr Grant Gibbons, Minister for Economic Development, said the financial benefit to Bermuda would depend on whether the island gets to host the event or a World Series Challenger event, which would be less money, but still an economic stimulator for Bermuda. 

Currently, the island is one of three locations (see separate story in sport) — San Francisco and San Diego are the other two — in the running to host the 2017 America’s Cup.

Dr Gibbons said San Francisco’s take was less than the previous defence in Valencia, Spain.

“They were a little over  $1 billion in terms of what they estimated. We have to recognize the economic contribution of the America’s Cup depends on a number of factors. Part of that was they had a fairly large spectator base both in Valencia, and, to a lesser degree, in San Francisco. 

“They reported they had over 700,000 spectators on shore.”

Dr Gibbons laughed: “Certainly, Bermuda isn’t going to be able to accommodate 700,000 spectators. We would sink, probably, if we had 700,000 spectators.”

He said if the island was awarded an event, would have to temper our expectations. 

“We would have to look at it on a Bermuda scale.”

Dr Gibbons added that the different class had an impact on the numbers in the competition and thus had an impact on the financial outcome.

On a positive side, he said: “San Francisco reported close to 2,000 jobs created directly.”

He did not want to get into a guessing game as to how many jobs this could potentially create for Bermuda, but said there would be jobs to be filled.

“For Bermuda, the contribution would come from both visitors coming in as spectators and for the syndicates coming here to compete. From Bermuda’s perspective, if we are successful, the nice thing is it is not a couple of days. The teams will often move in a year or so ahead of time to move in and practise. There is a longer-term and sustainable contribution from being here.”

Dr Gibbons said the media had an impact on the economy in San Francisco as well. 

The Minister said the “real contribution would come from addition visitors — hotels, restaurants, transportation, retail, would all benefit from an influx of people over a period of time.”

He added another economic windfall could come from increasing the super yacht and yacht traffic through Bermuda. 

“The Princess is building a marina, which could handle the larger yachts, but the Corporation of St Georges is working on a marina and there is the South Basin at Dockyard, which is aiming to handle large traffic as well.

“San Francisco saw an influx of these large yachts and they make a significant contribution in their own right. If we’re successful, this would help grow and put us on the map in that perspective.”