Durango city councilors on Tuesday unanimously voted to submit a proposal to host the start of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. The bold move could flood Durango with international visitors, and that could offset the hefty cost.
Im very excited about this race; its Colorados version of the Tour de France, Mayor Christine Rinderle said.
Durango had drafted an 83-page proposal to serve as the start for Stage 1 for the 2011 race. The city offered a $160,000 subsidy for hotel rooms needed for advance crews, race officials and riders with a local organizing committee planning a yearlong fundraising campaign.
Salida, which served as Stage 1 for the 2011 race, signed a contract with Classic Bicycle Racing, owner of the Challenge, that required the town to spend $70,000 for hotel rooms, box lunches for race crews, meals for volunteers and an upscale breakfast for VIPs who had to be served by professional wait staff, not volunteers.
In other business, the City Council decided to spend $1.2 million on Durangos recycling center. The state had offered Durango $500,000 to buy a new baler and conveyer belt if the city agreed to match the grant. Councilor Paul Broderick voted no saying he was concerned about the economic impact of the city spending $700,000 to secure a $500,000 grant.
Rinderle said she understood the money would be spent so the recycling center could handle its current load. City Manager Ron LeBlanc said improvements would include overhangs or some sort of roofed covering for some recyclables. Concerns had been expressed about how rain runoff and the suns heat affected some recyclables such as plastic.
I dont feel as if Ive been presented with enough financial analysis to make a decision at this point, Broderick said, explaining his vote.
However, there was little debate about Durango playing a key role in the 518-mile Pro Cycling Challenge, a race that this year attracted a million spectators and 136 riders from 24 countries.
The race was broadcast to 160 countries and drew international media attention, 50,000 Twitter and Facebook followers, and more than 1 million visitors to the USA Pro Cycling Challenge website, LeBlanc noted in a memo to councilors. He said that we proudly host many bike events including the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic one of the largest and longest continuously run cycling events in the United States. Durango also holds the prestigious Silver Level Bicycle Friendly Community designation from the League of American Bicyclists.
The rocky economy presented some headaches for the 2011 Challenge. It failed to attract a title sponsor. Sponsorship was dedicated to Millennium Promise, an anti-poverty organization. Pro Cycling Challenge event chairman Shawn Hunter told reporters in June this was the first major sporting event to offer sponsorship to an international charity.
Fashion designer and Millennium supporter Tommy Hilfiger donated his services to create shirts celebrating the Pro Cycling Challenge and Millennium Promise names.