EXCLUSIVE: America's Cup team looking to train off Lanai
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Billionaire Larry Ellison is considering plans to bring his America's Cup-winning racing team to Lanai for training in a move that would bring a huge lift to the island's economy.
Sources tell Hawaii News Now that Ellison's representatives are seeking state and county approvals to upgrade boating facilities to accommodate Oracle Team USA so that they can practice off of Lanai.
The team, which will defend the America's Cup title in San Francisco next summer, could spend several months training here.
Economists say the move will create jobs and boost Lanai's image as a high-end visitor destination.
"This is an interesting one because it's the type of high profile activity that would get a lot of attention, and maybe spark other kinds of maritime activity to flourish in a way that maybe hasn't been the case in the past," said local economist Paul Brewbaker.
The America's Cup is one of the largest international sporting events. Next year's race in San Francisco is projected to generate more than $1.5 billion in revenue.
If the Oracle team winds up training on Lanai, they will likely bring a staff of up to 100 people, which will include racing crew, engineers, scientist and other support staff.
Sources said that Ellison is not looking to permanently expand Lanai's harbor facilities for now.
Instead, he's looking for approvals to install temporary structures such as heavy-duty cranes for lifting boats out of the water, storage facilities and even port-a-potties.
During the late 1980s, four-time America's Cup winner Dennis Conner conducted similar training exercises here that provided a big lift to Hawaii's economy.
Ellison, America's third richest man, is already making significant investments since taking over Lanai.
He's upgrading its two hotels and is fixing roads and public facilities, such as its community pool and its gym.
But bringing his racing team would put his personal stamp on the Pineapple Island.
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