Though Larry Ellison and his reps at Oracle Racing might love (and live in) San Francisco, their threats to move the race to San Diego in 2017 were real. Negotiations with potential host cities continues, but the list got whittled from four to three venues this week, and it appears San Francisco is the one that was eliminated — though Oracle Team CEO Russell Coutts would not explicitly confirm that in a statement on Monday. Last ditch negotiation tactic? Maybe.

Coutts told the Associated Press that they had reduced the field of competing venues from four to three, which would leave San Diego, Chicago, and Bermuda as contenders — and the AP notes that "it's been known for months that San Francisco hasn't offered terms as attractive as those offered by [the other cities]."

It's also well known that Ellison would love to keep the race in San Francisco, and that the backdrop of the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, and the Golden Gate all added to one of the most exciting races in the Cup's recent history. It's also well known that the San Francisco Bay probably has the best sailing conditions of the four candidates. But Coutts has been playing hardball and negotiators for S.F. aren't likely to give them anything like the sweetheart deal they had for 2013, which included free police and fire services, and free rent on the piers — all of which ultimately cost taxpayers $5 million $11.5 million.

It's not clear what other cities have offered to sweeten the deal, though the Bermuda option seems likely to come with tax breaks. San Diego last hosted the Cup in 1988, 1992, and 1995, though in those cases the race was held way offshore, and the 2017 proposal would have the race in San Diego Bay.

Coutts has said that the team hopes to eliminate one more contender venue by the end of June.

[AP/Herald Tribune]
[CBS Los Angeles]
[SF Examiner]