State Leaders and Citizen Rally to Support America’s Cup Bid
Thursday, December 23, 2010
“It’s a couple of days before Christmas and we thought, ‘Is anybody going to turn out for this?’ Look at this, this is unbelievable!” said Evan Smith, President and CEO of the Newport and Bristol County Convention and Visitors Bureau, bringing robust cheers from the nearly 400 supporters who gathered at the Newport Marriott. “This is a very moving turnout…it makes very strong statement about why we’re here this morning.”
Statewide Show of Solidarity
Hosting the America’s Cup, said Smith, would be an opportunity for statewide and regional financial benefits.
In a show of solidarity, leaders present included: Bob Billington, executive director of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council; Martha Sheridan, President & CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau; Karen Jedson from Warwick Department of Tourism; Myrna George President South County Tourism Council; Jessica Willi from Block Island Tourism; Mark Brodeur, Director of Tourism at RIEDC
Smith told the standing room only crowd that as the third largest sporting event in the world, eclipsed only by the World Cup and the Olympics, the America’s Cup is Rhode Island’s opportunity to show everything the state has to offer on a global platform and reap far-reaching financial gain, calling it a “once in a generation opportunity.”
"It’s not a boat race..."
Sail Newport director Brad Read, and avid sailor himself, said the key to securing a successful Cup would be coming together off the water and building the marine infrastructure needed at Fort Adams to accommodate the world’s première sailing event. Read led a standing ovation for Tom Ehman, head of external affairs at BMW Oracle Racing, holders of the America’s Cup, who has been instrumental throughout the courting process. “BMW Oracle has changed the dynamic, going to 72’ mega-catamarans. They travel upwards of speeds of 30mph and they’re going to be cruising around the bay, the bay, not in the ocean where the public can’t see it. They transformed this event to a true made for TV event,” said Read. “If we get this event, we will be broadcast around the world, in primetime, in many countries…now is the time. This is a game changer. It’s going to help Rhode Islanders, it’s going to create jobs and it’s going to be fantastic for our state.”
Calling on Governor-elect Chafee
Read called the potential revenue stream of hosting the America’s Cup “staggering.” Heading the second largest professional sailboat team in the US, second only in size and success to BMW Oracle Racing, Read said he had a choice of where to organize, train and build their program and they chose Rhode Island. Hosting the Cup, he said, has everything to do with good business.
“As a State, we have to think of the America’s Cup as a huge business opportunity,” despite its nostalgia and history. “This event has a proven track record of bringing an influx of cash and jobs, positively influencing the overall business climate,” he said. “It’s not a boat race, it’s an international event. It’s an investment, a good solid business investment—it’s that simple.” Money spent by the potential 10 competitive teams will filter throughout New England, creating a much needed regional shot to the economy. “The last time I looked, the only way to grow, is to invest.” The race, he said firmly, has proven positive financial results, “and the state desperately needs it. So, Governor-elect Chaffee, we hope you’re listening. You have an opportunity to make a difference on the day one of your term.”
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