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Port Backs Use of B Street Pier During America’s Cup

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Although no public money has yet been allocated, the America’s Cup Organizing Committee won another round with the San Diego Unified Port District Tuesday, when its proposal to use the B Street Pier during the international sailing regatta was approved in concept.

Thomas F. Ehman Jr., executive vice president of the Cup committee, said he was pleased with the board’s decision. Still, despite numerous appearances before port commissioners in recent weeks, Cup officials have yet to be given a penny of the $10 million in public money they’ve requested.

Nevertheless, Ehman said, “Everything is right on track. We feel good about things and don’t anticipate any delays. Mr. (Don) Nay (director of the Port District) and everyone working with us have been really helpful.”

Ehman said the committee hopes to use the B Street Pier for administrative offices and as a Cup museum, as well as a media center designed to accommodate 4,000 journalists from around the world.

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Cup participants begin arriving in San Diego later this year, with the finals of the race scheduled in the waters off Point Loma in May, 1992.

Commissioner Lynn Schenk voted with the other members in a 7-0 gesture to approve Ehman’s request--in principle--but she, in particular, asked for more “bottom-line” figures on why port money is needed and what the Cup committee will use it for.

“I haven’t seen a total, detailed plan yet on what the port is in for in supporting the America’s Cup,” Schenk said. “I support the America’s Cup in concept, but to do this in a piecemeal way, bit by bit, as we’ve been doing, causes me concern.”

San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor took several shots at the America’s Cup committee in her appearance before the port to lobby for reimbursement for city services on port property.

That part of the meeting was far more contentious than the portion devoted to the Cup, with Commissioner Dan Larsen grilling O’Connor and other city officials item by item on why they need money from the port.

Near the end of her appearance, O’Connor pointed her finger at the commissioners and said, “When you ask the attorney general to review our proposal, just make sure he reviews the money you plan to give the America’s Cup and that it meets the same test.”

In the hallway, after she left, O’Connor said, “I can guarantee you the America’s Cup committee will not go through what we went through in there today.”

“We’re not worried about Mayor O’Connor,” Ehman said. “She’s told us privately she supports us. We believe she understands how much San Diego will benefit from the America’s Cup. And the benefit will be considerable.”

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