Chicago made maritime history today with Lake Michigan chosen as the first freshwater venue to host America’s Cup racing in the event’s 164-year history.
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago, a qualifying event for the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, will take place at Navy Pier from June 10 – 12.
Additionally, organizers announced that Chicago-based CME Group, the world's leading and most diverse derivatives marketplace, will be the first Foundation Partner of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago event.
“Chicagoans continue to prove their affinity for all sports and now they have the opportunity to add America’s Cup sailing to the list. We have no doubt that our amazing city, its residents and beautiful Lake Michigan will deliver the ultimate experience for the international sailing community.” said Desiree Rogers, Choose Chicago chair.
Navy Pier, celebrating its centennial in 2016, will serve as event headquarters June 10 – 12, 2016, and include a ticketed viewing area, entertainment and VIP hospitality areas for fans to enjoy as the high-performance 45’ foiling catamarans race by at 40+ mph close to the shore.
“We are looking forward to a historic year in 2016 at Navy Pier,” said Marilynn Gardner, president and CEO, Navy Pier Inc. “We will celebrate our centennial and an event like the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago is a tremendous opportunity to welcome new and returning maritime enthusiasts and casual fans to the Pier. There is no better way to showcase our newly renovated and reimagined public spaces to the world.”
ORACLE TEAM USA, the defending America’s Cup champion, has close ties to the “Windy City.” Larry Ellison, the team’s principal, grew up in Chicago and studied at the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago. ORACLE TEAM USA team member Matt Cassidy called Chicago home for the past five years before relocating to Bermuda this past spring.
“Chicago is a world-class city, and Navy Pier’s lakefront architecture creates the perfect sailing venue to showcase the excitement of the modern America’s Cup,” said Sir Russell Coutts, America’s Cup Event Authority chief executive officer and five-time America’s Cup winner. “Regardless of wind direction, spectators are guaranteed up-close racing action.”
Chicago’s selection as a host for the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series is due in large part to Don Wilson, a passionate sailor, longtime Chicagoan and CEO of DRW, a Chicago-based principal trading firm. He founded the Chicago Match Race Center (CMRC) in 2009 with the goal to bring world-class match racing to the shores of Lake Michigan. CMRC is the host management company for the event.
“When the international sailing world arrives in Chicago next summer, they will understand why Lake Michigan is called the third coast,” said Wilson, chairman, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago.
“Today’s announcement is just the beginning. Thanks to our partners, including Navy Pier, the Chicago Sports Commission and CME Group, we are building the foundation for stadium sailing and the America’s Cup in Chicago.”