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Port supports an America's Cup bid

Local organizers took the first official step on Tuesday in their effort to bring the America's Cup sailing race back to San Diego.

Following a presentation by the Sailing Events Association (SEA) San Diego, the Board of Port Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to support San Diego's bid to host the America's Cup in 2017 and directed staff to respond to a request for information.

Software billionaire Larry Ellison's Oracle Team USA captured the 34th America's Cup last year in San Francisco Bay with a historic, 9-8 comeback win over a team from New Zealand.

Ellison's crew, which is at an impasse with San Francisco officials over hosting the 2017 event, recently reached out to five cities, including San Diego, about their interest in holding the world's oldest regatta.

"We know how to do an America's Cup," said Chuck Nichols, chairman of SEA San Diego and former president of the host organization for America's Cup 1995, the last time it was held in San Diego.

The city also hosted the prestigious event in 1988 and 1992.

All three times San Diego played host, the regatta was held in the Pacific Ocean, but Nichols said this latest bid will feature a plan to hold the races in San Diego Bay, between the Coronado Bay Bridge and Harbor Island.

The 2013 America's Cup was the first time in the event's 162-year history that it wasn't contested in the ocean.

San Diego has hosted a pair of sailing events in the bay before -- the Russell Coutts 44s in November 2010 and the America's Cup World Series in November 2011.

"Those two events showed San Diego has a world class stage to put something on," Nichols said. "What we have here now locally has shown we have a venue to conduct stadium-style racing in the bay."

Nichols said holding the races in the bay would allow more people to watch the races, and it would be less expensive to hold the event than if it was out in the Pacific Ocean.

Nichols said the America's Cup World Series brought in approximately 100,000 spectators. The America's Cup 2013 drew more than 1 million fans, he said.

The Port of San Diego has until March 3 to respond to a request for information from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which is sponsoring the Oracle team and is responsible for finding the next site.

Talks between Ellison and San Francisco city officials have likely stalled because of the financial hit the city took by hosting the event.

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, the city lost $11.5 million, and the financial impact to the city was less than a third of the project $1.4 billion figure.

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