Budgeted sponsorship revenue of $60,000 for this summer’s professional cycling race “seems light,” Aspen City Councilman Derek Johnson said, and organizers should “reach for the stars” in an attempt to offset the public’s cost to hold the two-day event in Aspen.
Johnson’s comments came at a work session Monday when the city’s contract with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge for staging and logistics was discussed.
Aspen will host both a finish and a start on Aug. 22 and 23 for the second annual seven-day stage race that takes some of the world’s best cyclists on a challenging tour of Colorado. Cyclists will come from Gunnison, over Independence Pass and leave via the pass the next morning on their way to Beaver Creek.
The local organizing committee has a total budget of $377,000 for hosting the event, which is $100,000 more than last year’s tab, when Aspen only hosted a stage finish.
The city’s general fund contribution is budgeted at $100,000, which is unchanged from last year. The lion’s share of 2012’s estimated revenue, at $160,000, is coming from selling VIP passes to watch the race in the “patron tent” and special packages where top dollar is paid to ride in a car following the racers.
The local organizing committee is in charge of selling sponsorship packages, where businesses and organizations can purchase booth space in exposition areas set up for fans to gather. The primary exposition will be held this year at Paepcke Park, which is where the finish line will be set on Aug. 22. There also are other opportunities available for local businesses to get involved, and the city is planning a 12-day “Bike Aspen” promotion leading up to the race.
Johnson encouraged race organizers to “really get out there and hit every corner of the community” in pitching sponsorship packages. He said he’d like to see a revenue target of $120,000.
Nancy Lesley, the city’s special events director and head of the local organizing committee, said the $60,000 figure is conservative and the goal is to bring in more revenue.
“We want to come back to you ... and say we hit it out of the ballpark,” Lesley said.
Johnson emphasized that now is the time to reach out to local businesses, which are typically drawing up summer marketing plans in the off-season spring months.
Mayor Mick Ireland said the No. 1 priority should be putting on a good event, followed by an increased sponsorship push. Even if the city pays the entire $100,000, it’s still worth it, given the PR value the race brings to Aspen, Ireland said. He also said the Aspen Skiing Co., Johnson’s employer in his day job, should take the lead by purchasing a large sponsorship package.
Lesley also reported that area lodges already are booked at around 40 percent for the race days, up from 13 percent at this time last year for those dates.
Councilman Steve Skadron said he’s concerned about the use of paint to place messages on the road, especially on Independence Pass. Last year, team names were stenciled onto the road, apparently by professionals, in advance of the race. Marking the road is a part of cycling culture, Skadron conceded, but he urged who ever is doing it to use non-toxic, non-permanent materials.
Lesley said everyone is on board with that message and the organizing committee might even distribute a non-toxic, non-permanent product for people to use.