Study tallies benefits of hosting bicycle race

BOULDER – Visitors who came to Boulder specifically to watch a USA Pro Cycling Challenge event spent an estimated $2.4 million, according to newly released information from a study by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado-Boulder.

Spending related to the bike race on Saturday, Aug. 25, meant an additional estimated $48,000 in sales tax revenue to Boulder city coffers, according to the study. Boulder hosted the sixth stage of the seven-day statewide race, including a downtown festival and a race finish atop Flagstaff Mountain.

In all, Boulder visitors brought about $98,000 in additional sales tax revenue to Boulder that day, said Brian Lewandowski, research associate for the Business Research Division of the Leeds School. Many parents also were in town that weekend to help their students move in at CU, Lewandowski said.

“We tried to understand the visitor profile and where they’re coming from, what they’re spending their money on,” Lewandowski said. “That’s why we reported the two numbers. If parents came in for student weekend, and they made a decision to go look at the race … that’s one of the delineation points.”

More than 400 race-watchers were surveyed by 15 student workers in the Leeds survey. The city paid up to $10,000 for the study.

City officials spent $283,481 to host the race – mostly on Open Space and Mountain Parks personnel, police, clean-up personnel and other city workers, according to a report released by the city in advance of a Thursday, Nov. 1, city council meeting. City officials estimate that a total of 60,000 people watched the Boulder race stage.

Lewandowski cautioned anyone interested in the race’s potential return on investment to Boulder to think more about the city’s “brand” as a hub for companies in the outdoor industries rather than looking strictly at the numbers. Lewandowski said he will not make a case for or against hosting future bike race events, if he is asked his opinion at the Nov. 1 meeting.

“I’m simply reporting the numbers from that weekend,” Lewandowski said. “I enjoy these types of events, but this is a fiscal question and a branding question.”

City costs to host a USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage in 2013 would be $200,000 or more, according to the city report for the Nov. 1 meeting. A route change away from city open space could reduce expenditures, the report said.

A volunteer local organizing committee of businesses and interested residents in Boulder is expected to apply for a spot on the 2013 race map. Depending on what city council members decide at the Nov. 1 meeting, a city council letter may be sent in support of the 2013 application, according to the report.

Some Longmont residents and businesses also are interested in luring the 2013 race. Members of enthusiast group Bicycle Longmont, various breweries and a Visit Longmont representative have formed a committee to file an application to race organizers to host a piece of next year’s race.

The application deadline is Friday, Nov. 16.

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