New London to give $5,000 to group trying to land America's Cup venue

New London - The City Council has agreed to financially help a group that is promoting the city as a possible venue for the 34th America's Cup races.

The Thames River America's Cup Committee has been meeting for three months to find ways to promote New London for the world's third-largest sporting event next to World Cup soccer and the Olympics.

The City Council agreed to give the group $5,000, but only if it finds matching funds.

John Johnson, a member of the committee, said the group is looking to raise $20,000 to $25,000 to hire a consultant.

"It's a real possibility we can get a portion of America's Cup here,'' Johnson told the City Council.

He added that historically, the race generates $200 million to $400 million in economic benefits.

The group is registering with the Secretary of State as a nonprofit corporation so it can begin fundraising.

In February, Larry Ellison of Team BMW Oracle won the 33rd America's Cup in Valencia, Spain. It is the first time since 1992 that the cup has returned to the United States. Ellison, based in San Francisco at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, can now choose the location for the next cup race, scheduled for sometime in 2013.

While San Francisco, San Diego and Newport are all vying for the race, New London might be able to make a bid to bring some of the qualifying races to New England waters.

"The committee is not seeking the whole enchilada,'' said Frank McLaughlin, also a member of the committee. "We just want part of the action ... Newport for the AC (America's Cup) final race and us for the challenger series. We can even share the event with New Bedford.''

He added that even if the city does not participate in America's Cup races, other racing events might want to hold events in New England waters.

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