01/06/2012 03:17 pm ET Updated Jan 06, 2012

America's Cup Reaches Fundraising Benchmark, Gets Served With New Sierra Club Appeal

It's 2012 -- the year of the America's Cup -- and things couldn't be more exciting in the race to the regatta.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, America's Cup Organizing Committee has secured the first fundraising goal of $12 million -- a crucial benchmark and a big step in making the race a reality.

But, as to be expected with a $300 million city project, the fundraising goal also brings with it a fresh wave of controversy. Although the $12 million benchmark was met, an undisclosed amount of the funds came from the Event Authority (the marketing sponsorship branch) instead of private donors, as expected. Though some see the Committee's decision to tap sponsors as getting creative, others are concerned about whether the Committee is being realistic about its fundraising goals.

"To those people who expected it all to be straight philanthropy, that may have been our expectation on Jan. 1, 2011, the day after the agreement was signed," said America's Cup Organizing Committee CEO Kyri McClellan to the Chronicle. "But as soon as we got into the marketplace, we realized we needed to create an alignment of interest with the Event Authority."

San Francisco is responsible for $32 million of the price tag, and organizers have expressed confidence in their fundraising efforts. But if the full $32 million goal is not met or if costs exceed projections, the remaining bill will have to be picked up by the City -- a detail that was not part of the original sales pitch.

Meanwhile, organizers are busy fighting another more immediate battle: a pair of appeals filed against the environmental impact report. The Board of Supervisors approved the environmental impact report on December 15, sparking an immediate appeal from members of the Environmental Council. And this week, the Sierra Club filed another, claiming that the report failed to adequately address water pollution and sediment issues that could arise from dredging the bay in preparation for the race, according to the Examiner.

"Even though Board of Supervisors will probably approve the certification, at least this provides some more public education about what's going on," said Sierra Club Chair Rebecca Evans to the Examiner. "We just want to make sure The City has a clean, green, sustainable event."

This marks the Sierra Club's second block this week, as the group also filed a lawsuit against the redevelopment plan of Lake Tahoe's Homewood Resort, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

The two appeals against the America's Cup will be folded together in a joint hearing on January 24. And we can only wait to see what other surprises the new year will bring for the regatta.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the America's Cup. The Sierra Club did not file a suit, but rather, an appeal against the Environmental Impact Report's passing.