The Newport Daily News is reporting on the developments in Rhode Island on their bid to host the 34th America's Cup in the state.
BMW Oracle Racing have had a negotiating team in Newport for a week holding discussions over staging the 34th America's Cup after San Francisco, previously described by the team as having a 'winning bid', changed the deal that had been under negotiation for four months, substituting terms that were financially more conservative from the City's perspective.
BMW Oracle Racing negotiators Stephen Barclay and Tom Ehman have not said Newport is their first choice, reports the Newport Daily News, but Ehman said after the meeting it is 'at the top of the pile' and a 'top option.'
Newport Daily News reports that Tom Ehman, also external affairs director for the BMW Oracle Racing team, said the race organizers were sold when they saw the state’s plan to convert Fort Adams into a 'world-class event center' and then toured the site.
'If you can deliver on that Fort Adams plan by July 1, 2012, we will hold two regattas in August and September of 2012,' Ehman said during a meeting held in North Smithfield on Monday afternoon. If the state makes other improvements at Fort Adams by Jan. 1, 2013, including the creation of a media center, the America’s Cup competition would follow, he told the newspaper.
'From all I have seen, it’s eminently doable,' Ehman said. 'We are serious about our commitment to Rhode Island.' He delivered a letter from Stephen Barclay, the lead negotiator for the race organizers, to Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the EDC board. The letter was distributed at the board meeting held at the headquarters of Banneker Industries Inc. in North Smithfield.
'We are very serious in our intent to move forward with Rhode Island,' Barclay wrote. 'There is much to do to meet the timeframes we have set.'
Due to the 11th hour nature of the negotiations it has long been suspected that it would not be possible to conclude a formal bid agreement however it now seems that a 'letter of good faith that the state is committed to the Fort Adams plan' will suffice.
An engineering design team is in place to 'create detailed plans and cost estimates for the needed marine infrastructure improvements at Fort Adams.'
'The firms will work quickly in the coming week to develop cost estimates and will consult with BMW Oracle on the design needs', the report adds.
The Newport Daily News reports that unemployment among building trades employees in the state is now in the 30 to 40 percent range, he said, and this kind of investment is greatly needed in Rhode Island.
The state has long been planning improvements at Fort Adams but needed a major event like this to spur action, Keith Stokes of the Rhode Island Economic Development Council said.
'This has all come together in a perfect storm,' he added.
The Newport Daily News reports that Tom Ehman lived in Newport before the 1983 America’s Cup race and was a co-founder of Sail Newport. He said many on the BMW Oracle Racing team have Newport connections. The race organizers want to appeal to youth, and the youth who participate in the Sail Newport programs would help do that, he said.
Brad Read, president of Sail Newport, is a member of the planning committee and was present at the board meeting with other committee members.
'This is not just a boat race anymore,' Read said. 'This would be a huge corporate infusion of money into the state of Rhode Island.'
'If Rhode Island does a good job hosting these races, we could come back every two years,' Ehman said. The race organizers want the competition to take place every other year to so public interest does not wane, he told the Newport daily News.