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America's Cup race drew 65k to RI, less than hoped

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Last summer's America's Cup World Series sailing event in Newport attracted fewer people and generated less economic activity than initially predicted, according to a Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. report issued Friday.

The regatta drew 65,000 spectators to Fort Adams State Park over four days, according to the report. When the event was announced, however, officials said they hoped it would attract as many as 90,000 people.

The event's total economic impact also fell short of predictions. The report said it generated $52.7 million in activity at local businesses, salaries and taxes. Officials had initially said the event could generate up to $72 million.

While the event was one of the summer's biggest tourist draws, the economic impact fell short of the impact predicted by state leaders said when they announced it in 2011.

State officials later scaled their estimates back and said the initial projections were based on nine days of sailing competitions, when in fact the event had several days of practicing and preliminary events that led up to four days of racing.

Nevertheless, state leaders call the event a success and hope the report can serve as a guide to hosting future sailing events. It concludes that the state and Fort Adams in particular are good sites for future events like the America's Cup World Series.

"Hosting the America's Cup races last summer was a great source of pride for Rhode Islanders," Gov. Lincoln Chafee said in a statement. The report "shows that our beautiful state is the perfect setting for these types of events, and we look forward to using the feedback outlined in the study to make future events even better and more frequent."

Surveys of attendees found that they came from 41 states and 18 nations. Of the 65,000, 7,300 were first-time visitors to Newport.

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