Americas Cup 34: A Day in the Park

When the America's Cup Park opened its gates, the public shuffled in to find out what all the hype was about. If only there were an AC72 doing flybys ... (that's tomorrow).

Sailing World
Americas Cup Park
A ticket to the Official Opening Ceremony at the Concert Venue, where teams and cultural performances kicked off the event.Dave Reed

San Francisco has no shortage of parks, most of them on the green and grassy side like the legendary Golden Gate Park across the city from the City Front. And as of noon today, the city added another, the America’s Cup Park, a packed, but orderly arrangement of tents, temporary structures, bars, refurbished warehouses, and a modestly sized concert venue. As one San Francisco local said to me, “There may not be any real grass, but it sure is a hell of a improvement over what was here before.”

And that’s sentiment I heard over and over again as I donned my AC tourist hat and spent the day among the crowds, witnessing the ribbon cutting ceremony, casually wandering through the exhibits, opening my wallet at the concession stands, and then finally taking in the two-hour opening ceremony. The sun blazed as Oracle stunt planes buzzed overhead leaving white trails across the cloudless blue skies. Not a bad way to spend a working Fourth of July.

And so the America’s Cup has opened its doors to the people of San Francisco and beyond (although oddly enough, the public were kept outside the fences peering through a wall of videographers until the ribbons were cut). With the hope of reaping enough funds to justify the massive waterfront project, city officials were en force to congratulate each other, and to thank the armies of volunteers that will sustain the three-month long circus that concludes with the last of the America’s Cup matches in September. Today was a busy opening day in terms of attendance—as good as they’d hoped for, said one city official, but the challenge would be to maintain the momentum through the lighter racing schedules of the Louis Vuitton Cup. It’s most certainly worth a visit to the Park to see it in person, especially when, and if, the racing gets underway next week. But be forewarned: bring your wallet because the beers ain’t cheap, but the view is priceless.