A last minute change of plan for the Cup venue?

The wranglings over where the 34th America’s Cup will be staged continue as the 30 Dec deadline draws nearer.

Having prepared and presented its proposal, San Francisco’s bid to host the next America’s Cup now looks less certain than it might have done several weeks ago as Newport Rhode Island steps into the ring.

Talk of stumbling blocks in the negotiations between San Fran and the Golden Gate Yacht Club bid has been rife during the last couple of weeks and is understood to have focussed more on the financial issues than that of infrastructure.

Newport Rhode Island, home of the Cup for so many years, has been discussed many times since Ellison and Co. brought the trophy back to the States. But is this latest bid genuine or more of a strong arm tactic?

Here’s how the San Francisco Chronicle reported the news on 22 Dec.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is working around the clock in a last-ditch effort to keep the city’s bid for the America’s Cup alive – even as Larry Ellison openly courts Newport, R.I.

“We are in the red zone,” Newsom said Tuesday evening.

San Francisco’s bid for the 2012 race took a sudden dive last week when Team Ellison began talking very publicly with Newport about holding the race there.

“I would like to believe that our deal was not used as a negotiating strategy to leverage a deal in Rhode Island,” said Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, a key backer of San Francisco’s bid.

That’s exactly what is happening, however. Although everyone is trying to keep on the high road, the folks at City Hall are anything but smiles as they try to deal with Ellison’s group.

According to Newsom, the negotiations are not over what piers to use or how much public money to spend, but rather about tax increment financing and other financial details.

“This is a billion-dollar economics package, with thousand of jobs and a big investment by their organization. I can understand their need for certainty,” Newsom said.

“I’ve been on the phone steadily for the past five days,” the mayor said. “The one thing we can’t afford to do is get petulant and throw up our hands or start pointing fingers.”

Besides, there will be plenty of time for that if Ellison raises the anchor and heads east.