Pro bike race bidding team seeking $600K

The group behind Northern Colorado’s bid for the USA Pro Challenge is looking to raise as much as $600,000 to bring the bike race to Larimer County.

Half of that sum has already been verbally committed to the cause, contingent upon Northern Colorado’s bid being selected by the powers that be within USA Pro Challenge, according to Jim Clark, executive director of the Fort Collins Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Various municipalities, local organizations and a private donor who wishes to remain anonymous have all agreed to contribute financially and with in-kind services, in the event that Northern Colorado is chosen as a host for a stage of the bike race.

So far, $50,000 in commitments have been made by the cities of Fort Collins and Loveland each. Windsor and Estes Park have verbally committed $10,000 each, as has the Fort Collins Downtown Business Association. The Fort Collins CVB has committed $20,000.

NoCoCycling, a committee made up of tourism experts, cycling aficionados and local business owners is working to assemble Northern Colorado’s bid, which must be submitted to USA Pro Challenge by Nov. 16. Winning bids will be announced in December.

The bid will recommend that the race come through Northern Colorado on day six of the seven-day race. The proposed route will begin at The Ranch in Loveland and will travel west to Estes Park before turning around and heading back to Fort Collins for a post-race party in Old Town.

The entire race will end in Denver the following day.

The Northern Colorado route could take riders along Highway 34, Clark said, but that’s not set in stone yet. Previous rides have used mostly state highways. In town, some roads will have to be shut down for cyclists to make their way through, but for an hour or two at the most, Clark said.

This year’s race totaled 683 miles over seven days, and its economic impact, as estimated by IFM North America, was $99.6 million for the state, a significant bump over the $83 million in economic impact seen in 2011.

The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado in Boulder recently tallied the economic impact of the race on Boulder, which hosted the sixth day of the 2012 race.

Visitors who came to Boulder specifically to watch the event spent an estimated $2.4 million. About $48,000 in sales tax revenue made its way into city coffers from that day. The City of Boulder spent about $283,000 to host the race.

Clark said that economic impact is not what’s most important to him.

Instead, the exposure for the Northern Colorado area on a national and international scale is what’s driving NoCoCycling to bring the race here.

In 2012, the race garnered more than 31 hours of airtime on NBC and NBC Sports Network in the U.S. and was broadcast internationally to 175 countries worldwide.

“Just think of the views (in Estes Park),” Clark said. “Those would make for amazing TV visuals.”

Making a bid for what’s been called the U.S.’s Tour de France involves meeting a number of requirements, Clark said. Bidders must make accommodations for staging at the beginning of the race, hotel rooms, media accommodations and a festival at the end of the day’s race.

The 2013 race is scheduled for Aug. 18-24, so Northern Colorado would be bidding for the race to come through here on Aug. 23, a Saturday. That happens to be the weekend after CSU freshmen will move into their dorms, but Clark anticipates that since most students move in on Thursday, hotel rooms will be free again in time for the race Saturday.

This increased activity did make hotel rooms a bit pricier than NoCoCycling anticipated, but between Loveland and Fort Collins, the estimated 600 necessary rooms have been secured, again contingent on Northern Colorado receiving a leg of the race.

The race is expected to feature 130 riders representing 17 teams from more than 20 countries. Participants typically include Olympians, world champions and Tour de France riders.

Beginning the race at The Ranch takes care of the staging and media accommodations requirements. Both a staging area and several private meeting rooms are available at the Loveland venue.

As for the festival, downtown Fort Collins is accustomed to hosting summertime festivals, so putting one on is routine for downtown officials. The Pro Challenge festival would likely use the same footprint as the popular New West Fest, Clark said, and would mean a lot of exposure for downtown Fort Collins.

“It’s been a very uncomplicated process,” Clark said. “Everyone agreed, ‘Of course it should start at The Ranch and, of course, it should end in Old Town.’”

Fort Collins considered making a bid for a stage of the race two years ago, when the Pro Challenge was in its inaugural year. But it held off.

“Waiting two years was smart,” Clark said. “I don’t like getting involved in first-time events.”

Last year, 12 cities and towns were a part of the race, and now Northern Colorado is hoping to get in on a piece of the excitement.

“It’s not like we’re ever going to have the Olympics here,” Clark said. “This is likely the biggest sporting event Northern Colorado will ever have.”

Molly Armbrister covers real estate, banking and health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. She can be reached at 970-232-3139, marmbrister@ncbr.com or twitter.com/MArmbristerNCBR

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