By Sean Flynn
Daily News staff
The America’s Cup Event Authority recently obtained estimates that it could set up to 5,000 bleacher seats along the west wall of Fort Adams State Park in Newport and another 2,000 seats on the tip of the fort’s peninsula for spectators to follow the America’s Cup World Series sailing competition on Narragansett Bay.
Susan Maffei Plowden, the event manager for the America’s Cup World Series planned for June 23-July 1, said the authority would issue a request for proposals for the bleachers through the Newport County Chamber of Commerce.
Tom Hipkins, the authority’s project leader for Newport, said fewer bleacher seats may be installed to leave room for concession stands along the shore. There also will be an area for corporate skyboxes outside the fort’s west wall, he said.
A fleet of 45-foot catamarans will race in the East Passage of Narragansett Bay, between Fort Adams and Fort Wetherill in Jamestown, not in Rhode Island Sound like past America’s Cup events, so the western shore of the Fort Adams peninsula is a prime viewing spot. Besides the bleacher seats, there will be other areas for watching the action on the water.
“People will be spread out,” Hipkins said. “We are confident we can get 10,000 to 12,000 people out there.”
Seating plans and ticket prices still are being worked out, he said.
Hipkins and Plowden spoke at the second meeting of the 38member America’s Cup World Series Host Committee, held Thursday afternoon in the council chamber of City Hall. Most of the detail work is taking place in smaller subcommittees formed to deal with different aspects of the event such as: Logistics, Parking and Traffic; Events and Hospitality; Marine Affairs; Environmental/ Sustainability; Activity Zone; Marketing/ Public Relations; and Sponsorship.
Brad Read, chairman of the host committee, called on each of the subcommittees to give reports.
Organizers are planning nine full days of events to accompany the sailing, including cocktail receptions, a semiformal gala, meet-the-sailors events at the Community College of Rhode Island’s Newport campus and at Roger Williams University in Bristol.
The University of Rhode Island will sponsor a science and exploration exhibit on the parade grounds inside Fort Adams that will focus on oceanography, conservation and weather, according to the tentative planning. The International Yacht Restoration School, the Sailing Hall of Fame and the Oliver Hazard Perry Tall Ship have been asked to put together a “history of sailing exhibit.”
Committee member Halsey Herreshoff saidacontingency plan should be prepared in case there is bad weather, but Read said the catamarans can race in almost any weather, with wind speeds ranging from 4 to 40 knots.
“That changes the dynamics of racing,” Read said. “I personally am hoping for 40 knots.”
“There were torrential rains in San Diego with no wind, and they still raced,” he said. “They are going to race no matter what.”
Herreshoff was in Indianapolis for the Super Bowl and said the large numbers of volunteers who were available to answer questions and guide visitors were a key to that event’s success.
“We should have the same,” he said, “preferably attractive young ladies.”
Read said Kim Cooper of Sail Newport was organizing volunteers for the event.
Copyright © 2012 Edward A. Sherman Publishing Co. 02/17/2012