The city of Aspen has upped its financial contribution for this summer’s USA Pro Challenge cycling race by nearly $100,000 over last year’s subsidy.
That’s because this year Aspen is hosting the overall start of the seven-day, statewide race, as well as an opening day three-lap circuit and the stage-two start the following day.
Last year, Aspen was host to a stage finish and a next-day start.
Aspen City Council in November met with the special events team in executive session and agreed to fund the race between $190,000 and $215,000.
While the council earmarked $125,000 for last year’s race, the subsidy turned out to be $116,000, because savings were found on the expense side, and revenues offset some of the line item costs, said Nancy Lesley, the city’s special events director.
The 2013 subsidy was made public last week when the council during its regular April 22 meeting made a housekeeping move by putting the bike race revenues and expenses in an account within City Hall to keep accounting more accurate, as opposed to a separate one, known as the “Aspen Silver Cycling” account.
The total budget for this year’s race, to be held Aug. 19 and Aug. 20, is $475,000, according to Lesley.
The special events team plans to raise $260,000 this year through sponsorships, VIP ticket sales and other donations. The council signed off on increasing the budget authority by that amount, which will be offset by revenues. If additional revenues are raised beyond $260,000, the city’s subsidized portion for the stages will be reduced, according to Lesley’s memo to council. The new authority will be funded from the city’s general-fund cash reserve.
The increase, which could be as much as $99,000, is necessary because of the nature of hosting the opening stage, which will see the resort filled with more than 1,000 staff, production officials, media, fans, racers and their support staff in Aspen and Snowmass the weekend before the Monday start.
“There will be a lot of hub bub and a lot of buzz, and we’re looking at it like [the race] doesn’t start on Monday but over the weekend,” Lesley said. “We are going to extrapolate backwards and have a lot of great energy and activities” on Friday, Saturday and Sunday leading up to the race.
The final budget numbers from 2012’s event came out to be $277,049 in revenues and $285,209 in expenses. The revenues included the city’s $116,000 contribution, as well as $50,000 from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s marketing arm. Sponsorship and fundraising brought in $102,549, and the festival in Paepcke Park and on Hopkins Avenue generated $8,500.
ACRA and the town of Snowmass Village are contributing to this year’s race by marketing it throughout Colorado, Lesley said.
She said the special events team is now working on setting dates for fundraisers, selling VIP packages and sponsorships, recruiting volunteers and securing partnerships with organizations like Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, which also will raise money during the event.
This year, there will be two seats available in the pace car during the three-lap circuit, and each lap will be sold to those wanting to see the race up close and personal.
“It will be a phenomenal experience,” Lesley said. “We’re excited about that opportunity.”
This year’s race will require between 350 and 375 volunteers, which is around 50 to 75 more than last year.
The opening day three-lap circuit will tie up Highway 82 and other upper-valley roads for the afternoon of Monday, Aug. 19.
Day one’s route starts on Main Street in Aspen and after two laps through the West End, goes through the roundabout and up Maroon Creek Road to the pedestrian bridge that connects to Tiehack Road. At the bottom of Tiehack Road, racers will use the upvalley lanes of Highway 82 for a short distance until they get to Owl Creek Road.
At the upper end of Owl Creek Road near the fire station in Snowmass Village, the racers will turn right down Brush Creek Road and then just above Highway 82, they will turn left on to Medicine Bow Road. The racers then will take a low route across the Brush Creek Village subdivision on Upper Ranch Road to Juniper Hill Road before crossing Highway 82 to Smith Hill Road and McLain Flats Road.
From there, the course goes up Cemetery Lane, turns down Power Plant Road, through the West End and back to Main Street, where the finish line will be set up. Each lap is 22 miles long and includes 3,080 feet of climbing.
Roads will be intermittently closed as cyclists go by, with each lap expected to take about 50 minutes, race organizers told Pitkin County commissioners in March. The motoring public, as well as residents with driveways along the route, may experience delays of up to 20 minutes, but will be able to eventually get where they are going. Emergency vehicles also will have priority in any situation.
Lesley said local race organizers are doing what they can to minimize any inconveniences and will be starting early on informing the public of the impacts.
“It’s similar to last year with the impacts but with a bigger net,” she said. “We will do more things throughout the summer and keep it in the public’s mind and cycling enthusiasts’ minds.”