Steamboat Springs There hasn’t been an official decision, but city leaders and local organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s stop in Steamboat Springs want it to return next year and may be prepared to enter a bid for the 2012 race.
Jim Schneider, chairman of the local organizing committee, said the volunteer group has a meeting scheduled this month to evaluate what went well, what didn’t and whether the group wants to submit a bid for 2012. He couldn’t say definitively, but he guessed how the committee would react.
“The answer is ‘yes,’” Schneider said. “We need to do this. It’s a smart thing for this community to stay involved in this event, no doubt.”
Steamboat was the only host city to have a stage start and finish.
Thousands of residents and visitors lined Lincoln Avenue on Aug. 26. The downtown stretch of highway was closed all day for a variety of festivities before nearly 130 professional riders made their way downtown for the Stage 4 finish. Riders left the Stage 5 start from the Meadows Parking Lot and headed over a spectator-lined Rabbit Ears Pass toward Breckenridge on Saturday morning.
While in town last week, Pro Cycling Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter called Steamboat “the most energetic stage I’ve ever been a part of in cycling.”
“We think that was the biggest crowd of the week,” he said at the time. “Steamboat shined on a big platform.”
The Denver Post reported Tuesday that Hunter said he expected more than 30 Colorado cities and towns to submit bids for next year’s event. Hunter said he estimated that one-half to two-thirds of this year’s 11 host cities and towns would “play a part” in the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge.
Schneider said he expects the Pro Cycling Challenge to issue a request for proposals in October. So far, he has the city’s support.
City Manager Jon Roberts said Steamboat would be “highly supportive” of another Pro Cycling Challenge event next year.
City Council President Cari Hermacinski said she couldn’t speak for other council members or say whether they again would approve providing financial support for the race.
“It would depend on what the number is,” she said. “But what I’ve seen so far on the council, there’s a lot of support for biking events and the Bike Town USA effort.”
The city gave $35,000 in cash to support this year’s Pro Cycling Challenge stop in Steamboat.
City Finance Director Deb Hinsvark said cash contributions for the race totaled about $143,000, including the city’s portion. She said the rest was donated by local businesses and organizations as race sponsorships. And she said another $26,000 was provided in-kind by local businesses and organizations, bringing the cost to host the Stage 4 finish and Stage 5 start to $169,000.
Hinsvark said that doesn’t include the hundreds — and possibly more than 1,000 — of hours donated by city and county staff members and other private-sector employees to help plan and work the two-day event. She estimated that to be a $20,000 in-kind donation, bringing the total closer to $190,000.
But Hinsvark pointed out that Aspen spent the same amount to host the Stage 2 finish.
According to The Aspen Times, the city had a $190,000 budget and hoped VIP ticket sales, sponsorships and sales tax revenue would reduce that number to $100,000.
Mainstreet Steamboat Springs Manager Tracy Barnett said this week that local retail stores and restaurants reported no impact from the Pro Cycling Challenge. But she said the business owners were optimistic that new visitors and international exposure would bring new tourism dollars to Steamboat in the future.
Roberts said a financial contribution from the city for the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge would depend on whether there was additional money available in the budget and how the city projected the local economy to perform next year. But he sounded optimistic about the city contributing again.
“If we can, yes we will,” he said.
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 970-871-4203 or email jweinstein@SteamboatToday.com