The age-old battle between L.A. and “the Bay” might be getting a little more tense this year as the two metropolitan areas duke it out over the retired battleship USS Iowa, a.k.a. “the Big Stick.“
The Historic Ships Memorial at Pacific Square in the San Francisco suburb of Vallejo has been vying to get the Iowa since 1998: Now a new L.A. group, Pacific Battleship Center, wants to bring the vessel to the Port of Los Angeles as a tourist attraction.
The U.S. Navy reopened the bidding process to get the battleship donation after it said the Pacific Square folks didn't meet all the initial requirements.
The Iowa, which operated in the Pacific Theater against Japan in World War II and patrolled the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq war, was mothballed in Suisun Bay not far from Vallejo.
The L.A. side says the region's 10 million people will provide a much greater tourism market to help the ship stay afloat financially. The Bay Area crowd says, Have you seen a lot of tourists in … San Pedro?
(And it's not like the Queen Mary in Long Beach has been a rousing success, either).
L.A.'s bid has received the backing of the City Council.
Councilwoman Janice Hahn told the Washington Post:
“To think that glorious battleship could be the impetus to bring more tourists to Los Angeles and spend money here, it's a beautiful gift. This is a way to revive our local economy not just in San Pedro but really in Los Angeles.”
In any case this will be quite a battle for the annals of L.A.-S.F. relations.
The Bay Area says, “Hella.” L.A. says, “What happen?” as a greeting.
L.A. has the population and the urban gravity. The Bay Area arguably has a more tourist-friendly vibe along its waterfront. The Bay, too, can claim both U.S. senators from California. So that equals clout.
Whoever loses will have to say, “You sunk my battleship.”