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Seeking a Share of America’s Cup : Sponsorship: Businesses, hoping to snare part of the $1 billion the regatta is expected to generate, have been offered spots in a commercial directory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The San Diego Yacht Club’s defense of its America’s Cup title in 1992 is expected to generate $1 billion for the local economy. But area businessmen who are interested in getting their share of the windfall will have to pay to play, according to event organizers.

To be listed in a directory of goods and services that will be distributed to racing syndicates and sponsors, local businesses will have to pay fees ranging from $2,400 to $250,000. A directory listing is being touted by cup organizers as essential to grabbing a piece of the America’s Cup bonanza.

The fees paid by businesses will be their ticket to membership in America’s Cup Services, a marketing arm of the nonprofit corporation formed to manage the yearlong event for the Cup’s defenders. The group has planned an extensive publicity campaign to promote the regatta, as well as those San Diego-area businesses willing to support the race with their dollars.

To make these somewhat costly fees more palatable to businessmen, fees have been divided into three payments over a three years.

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The America’s Cup Organizing Committee will use the $1.5 to $4.6 million it expects to earn from these fees to help offset ACOC’s estimated $10-million operating budget.

ACOC has budgeted an additional $10 million that it hopes to receive from the San Diego Unified Port District to stage the race.

“We really needed a private income source,” said Dal Watkins, the president of the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau, which is an ACS member.

“In order for us to put on a good show . . . it has to be a little bit (from) everybody,” added Tom Vincent, the president of the Greater San Diego Hotel-Motel Assn. and the general manager of the San Diego Princess Hotel, which is also an ACS member.

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Watkins and Vincent are both on the committee that directs the ACS.

The central component of the organization’s publicity campaign is a comprehensive, glossy San Diego directory that Parker Pike, ACS membership and hosts program director describes as “a catalyst for business.”

The directory will include maps, calendars and profiles, along with other information for those interested in attending, sponsoring or participating in the America’s Cup event.

The sole criterion for membership in ACS is paying the membership fee, and a committee spokesman said this week that applicants will not be screened. Fee-paying businesses will be listed alphabetically and by category in the ACS directory.

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Businesses that purchase some of the more expensive memberships will be granted space for advertisements in the directory, the size and placement of which will be based on the type of membership purchased.

“They will have the implied endorsement of this organization,” Pike said.

ACS’s $2,400 membership program is set up for what it calls “host merchants,” each of which will only be listed in the directory. ACS will also sell 100 restaurant memberships for $10,000 and 100 charter memberships for $50,000.

Restaurant members will each receive a sixth-of-a-page black and white advertisement for their fee. Charter members will be given space for a full-page, four-color ad.

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Those who purchase the 10 ACS $250,000 associate memberships will be given their choice of position for a two-page, full-color advertisement in the directory.

ACS plans to print and distribute 500,000 directories in three editions beginning this November, Pike said. The third and largest edition will be published in November, 1991.

In addition to the directory, ACS members will receive promotional assistance from an 800-number referral center being established by the organization to field calls from the media, travel agents, tourists, syndicates and sponsors.

“We’re getting calls in daily from all over the world,” Referral Service Director Judith Ross said.

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All ACS members, regardless of the type of membership they purchase, will be allowed to use the America’s Cup logo for their own publicity purposes.

ACS directors explained their program to 500 San Diego County business people at 10 seminars Tuesday and Wednesday. A number of those who attended the 1 1/2-hour seminars expressed interest in joining, the directors said.

The actual regatta will begin with the five-day First International America’s Cup Class World Championships in San Diego next May. Defender and challenger selection trials will begin in January, 1992, and run through April.

Twenty challengers from 15 countries are expected to participate in the races. The finals will be held in May, 1992.

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“After we win, we’ll have to do this again,” Vincent said.


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