Chicago is to host a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series next year which will be a qualifying event for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda. The event will take place at Navy Pier from June 10 – 12 2016
As momentum for the 35th America’s Cup gathers pace and the ACWS events start to draw in spectators and TV, it was considered by some in the Cup loop to be only a matter of time before an American port announced an ACWS event. Over the last few months there has been plenty of speculation but confirmation that Chicago was to host one of the three day events in 2016 will still have taken many by surprise, especially as there is no Cup team based out of the ‘windy city’. In addition, this will be the first time that an America’s Cup event has taken place on fresh water.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago, will be a qualifying event for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda and will take place at Navy Pier from June 10 – 12. The location, which is celebrating its centennial in 2016, will serve as event headquarters and include a ticketed viewing area, entertainment and VIP hospitality areas.
There are however a few Cup connections with the city. Larry Ellison, Oracle Team USA’s team principal, grew up in Chicago and studied at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. In addition, team member Matt Cassidy called Chicago home for five years before relocating to Bermuda this past spring.
“Chicago is a world-class city, and Navy Pier’s lakefront architecture creates the perfect sailing venue to showcase the excitement of the modern America’s Cup,” said Sir Russell Coutts, America’s Cup Event Authority chief executive officer. “Regardless of wind direction, spectators are guaranteed up-close racing action.”
But with no home team to underwrite the costs of the event it has also been announced that Chicago-based CME Group, (a derivatives marketplace), will be the first Foundation Partner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series event.
The city’s selection as a host for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is due in large part to Don Wilson, a passionate sailor, longtime Chicagoan and CEO of DRW, a Chicago-based principal trading firm. He founded the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC) in 2009 with the goal to bring world-class match racing to the shores of Lake Michigan. CMRC is the host management company for the event.
“When the international sailing world arrives in Chicago next summer, they will understand why Lake Michigan is called the third coast,” said Wilson, chairman, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago.
“Today’s announcement is just the beginning. Thanks to our partners, including Navy Pier, the Chicago Sports Commission and CME Group, we are building the foundation for stadium sailing and the America’s Cup in Chicago.”
Given the diversity in approaches of the two ACWS events so far and with a third due to take place in Bermuda in October, the Cup’s traveling circus is starting to attract plenty of attention from cities, potential hosts as well as spectators.
The Chicago announcement adds a second firm date in the 2016 calendar before Portsmouth in July.