'With some work, we can keep these economically viable, globe-trotting events coming to Rhode Island.'
COURTESY R.I. DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM
WIND IN THE SAILS: This month, Newport will play host to the final stop in the 2012 America's Cup World Series events. More than $1 million has been put into upgrades at Fort Adams as the park prepares for its closeup.
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
On June 26, Newport will become the final stop in the 2012 America’s Cup World Series events, marking the culmination of nearly a year of such events all over the world and Rhode Island’s quest to bring world-class racing back to the Ocean State.
But it also marks the beginning of the state’s plans to keep it that way.
“This is a phased development,” said Brad Read, executive director of Sail Newport and chairman of the state’s America’s Cup host committee, about continued infrastructure developments at Fort Adams State Park, which will be the venue for Cup events beginning pre-race on June 23.
“With some work, we can really do a lot to keep these economically viable, globe-trotting events coming to Rhode Island,” he said.
Fort Adams, the coast fortification across Newport Harbor that is a venue for many annual events, including the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Oysterfest, has been at the center of the state’s sailing-status woes for some time.
In 2010 the state lost its bid for the America’s Cup 2013, which will take place in San Francisco.
That came on the heels of a failed attempt to bring the Volvo Ocean Race in late 2009 and brought, Read previously told Providence Business News, a “light bulb” moment that made it clear improvements would have to be made at Fort Adams if the state wanted to capitalize on the prestige and tourism dollars that come with being seen as a world-level sailing venue.
“We’ve been bidding for the [World Series event] for 18 months and we were in flux as to whether we could have a facility,” said Joe Dias, chief of the division of planning and development at the R.I. Department of Environmental Management. “We are [now] 99.9 percent finished with everything they wanted us to do.”
The R.I. Economic Development Corporation has said the America’s Cup World Series race has “accelerated” public infrastructure improvements at the park. They began in the summer of 2011 and are expected to be completed in 2013.
Nearly $1.3 million, according to an EDC fact sheet, has been spent so far on projects, including removing traffic islands and repaving roads to accommodate boat transportation, upgrades to electric, water and lighting systems, and construction of new, modular docks to allow boat docking and various dock configurations for future events.