Economic impact of Pro Cycling Challenge weighed | SteamboatToday.com

Economic impact of Pro Cycling Challenge weighed

Resort officials say event payoff is in the form of international TV exposure

— The USA Pro Cycling challenge offered mixed results for most Steamboat businesses, but the enduring benefits may come from TV exposure on five continents.

"The real buzz is that Steamboat reached new markets and wider markets through the race," Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. spokeswoman Loryn Kasten said. "It was a chance to show that Steamboat is a town with a breadth of possibilities for visitors and that we're known as Ski Town USA."

The TV exposure was beyond what the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association or Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. could have hoped to achieve on their own, Kasten acknowledged. Beyond the live race coverage of the first five race stages on Versus and Sunday's national coverage on NBC, the race feed was shared with 161 countries and territories.

The race organizers arranged international broadcast partnerships with Eurosport, Supersport and Premier Media Group to reach audiences in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

In addition, Kasten's colleague Mike Lane said, Radio Shack's Web-based Shack Tracker coverage of the race allowed people to follow the race on their phones and computers.

In fact, Lane heard directly from U.S. Nordic combined skiers Billy Demong, Brian Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher, who followed the race on Shack Tracker while they were in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, to compete in summer races.

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"The opportunities are endless as we take this race into the future," Kasten said, "And we want to do that."

It will take weeks for local committees at each stop of the race to fully assess the economic impacts of hosting a start or a finish, Kasten said. But Lane shared some preliminary results from a service Ski Corp. used to capture incomplete data on how many times Steamboat was mentioned on TV during the week.

"It's a quick service we use to track Steamboat mentions and often misses some places where the footage aired," Lane said.

The preliminary tally was 106 mentions for an estimated publicity value of nearly $150,000.

Local organizers spent about $160,000 to help land the race.

However, Lane said those initial results did not include numbers generated by NBC's Sunday telecast or any international TV exposure. Nor did they include print outlets and social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube.

Steamboat leveraged the NBC telecast by providing the network with stock video footage, which it in turn supplied to network affiliates across the country for use in their local newscasts.

"The numbers and their value will continue to grow; we just don't track all of those outlets as it's a bit too expensive," Lane said. "But it points to a positive sign for generating exposure for the community."

Kasten said every community that hosted a stage in the Pro Cycling Challenge received a 30-second commercial spot, but Steamboat, with a finish Friday and a race start Saturday, benefited from two commercial spots.

"It showed Steamboat in summer and winter from a community standpoint," Kasten said. "It wasn't a Ski Corp. commercial, and it used the Chamber as a call to action."

If anything marred the media exposure gained from the Pro Cycling Challenge, it was that the live video feed was frequently disrupted as the race wound through the tallest mountains.

Kasten managed to find a bright side to that dark spot.

"It meant (race announcers) Phil (Liggett) and Paul (Sherwen) had to fill time by talking about the race venues and we were able to give them some material," she said.

Whether or not Steamboat is awarded a stage in the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge, it will continue to benefit from the event, Kasten predicted.

"If it doesn't come to Steamboat Springs, but returns to Colorado, it will still be good for Steamboat," she said.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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