Tour of Missouri suffers another blow
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Friday, March 26, 2010

Tour of Missouri suffers another blow

by Neil Browne at 6:18 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

The possibility of the Tour of Missouri returning for 2010 took another hit as the Missouri Division of Tourism has decided to not allocate state money to fund the seven-day stage race.

The majority of the race's funding came through corporate sponsors, however the Division of Tourism accounted for 40 percent of the race's funding, according to Brent Hugh the executive director of the Missouri Bicycle and Pedestrian Federation. However without any funding from the state the race will not continue. Funding from corporate sponsors goes hand in hand with state funding.

"I think that having some support from the state is pretty imperative to making this event happen," said Sarah Stroesser, Communication Manager for the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

According to the Tour of Missouri website, the economic impact on Missouri has been measured at more than $75 million over the past three years. Local business in the capital had seen a boost of 40,000 people.

"For a local business like mine, it does help promote cycling, not necessarily the road racing aspect, but it at least gets people outside, getting them out on their bikes and aware of cycling as a sport," said Nick Smith, owner of Red Wheel Bike Shop to local news channel KOMU. "After the first race started here in town, we came back to the store and lots of customers were coming in excited about watching cyclists and purchasing bikes."

A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Economic Development told KOMU that the State Tourism Commission voted not to allocate state funds for the 2010 fiscal year after the 2009 race this fall because of the already inflated budget.

The 2010 edition of the race though the “Show Me” state isn't dead yet. The Missouri Appropriations Committee has passed a reduced proposal for one million dollars in state funding to go toward the race. The bill has yet to reach the house.

Additionally there is a grassroots social media drive to show support for the race. On the official Tour of Missouri website there is a list of ten ways a person can support the race. The Tour of Missouri has a Facebook page on the social media site to show support. Private donations are also being accepted to help defray the cost of the race.

Sean Weide, public relations consult to several professional cycling teams, told VeloNation, "There are a dozen Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Missouri. Surely, one of them would like to proudly put their name on the Tour of Missouri."

However, one factor holding the Tour of Missouri back from a big corporate sponsor is the lack of media markets. There are only about two and a half media markets (St. Louis, Kansas City and 1/4 Columbia, 1/4 Jefferson City) in Missouri. A major corporate sponsor wants as many media impressions as possible to justify the cost of bankrolling the race.

In 2009 more than 500,000 spectators attended the race over the week (up from 434,000 + in 2008) that had a $38.1 economic impact for the State and its host communities (up from $29.8 million in 2008).

It is now up to the politicians to determine if short-term cost of supporting the Tour of Missouri out weighs the long-term gains.

In 2009 David Zabriskie won the Tour of Missouri, his first overall stage race win of his career. The race is scheduled for August 31 through September 6.

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