USA Pro Cycling Challenge creates $83.5 million economic impact in Colorado, study says
As the economy is tanking, how does one generate millions of dollars in revenue? Apparently, put on a free bike race.
According to a study by IFM, a global sports marketing firm, the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge, held throughout Colorado August 22-28 and won by Levi Leipheimer, generated $83.5 million in economic impact for the state. Over one million spectators from across the country and the world viewed the race in Colorado.
"It was a wonderful first year," says Shawn Hunter, CEO and co-chairman of the race. "I have to thank the people of Colorado, the state, the communities for overwhelming support, over a million spectators. I think all of us kind of pulled together and put about two years of work into six months. It aged us all a little bit, but here we are, and we're deep in planning for 2012."
More than $67 million of the impact came from direct spending by spectators. The remaining money came from vendor, team and event spending, as well as state and local taxes and impact on local businesses. Hunter says IFM surveyed at each stage of the race and received responses from about 2,000 spectators.
Shawn Hunter addresses the crowd.
Two points of pride for race organizers are that over 22 percent of responders traveled from outside Colorado to view the race and 94 percent plan to return next year. From the poor grammar department, 95 percent of those surveyed answered "good" or "very good" when asked their satisfaction with the race.
"The thing I was struck by was how many people from out of state were there, what a great time they were having and how excited they were to come back with more friends," Governor John Hickenlooper said during a press conference held today at the State Capitol. "That was the thing I heard again and again: 'This was great. This was fabulous. Better than I expected. I'm coming back.'"
According to the study, spectators came from at least 39 states and sixteen other countries. Over 20 percent of those surveyed live in Colorado, but traveled more than fifty miles to attend the race. Among those who traveled from out of state, over 71 percent said the race was the main reason for visiting Colorado.
Governor Hickenlooper lauds the USA Pro Cyclling Challenge.
Immediately post-race, many of the race organizers talked about how the race served as a post card for Colorado, and to that point, 85 percent of out-of-state visitors said they are more likely or much more likely to return to Colorado based on their visit during the race.
"People that might have come here just for the bike race, the cycling enthusiasts, might come back to ski," says Hunter. "Where our race falls on the calendar is perfect for tourism, and in particular the ski industry. Our numbers in Europe are phenomenal. A lot of the Europeans like coming over here and skiing places like Breck, Vail, Steamboat and Aspen. That's where we're going to see a lot of the indirect benefits. It really was a commercial for not just the state, but each community."