Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Cycle race has big impact, with or without Armstrong
By Tony Lombardo Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cyclists don't breeze by for the Ford Tour de Georgia. They stop, eat, spend the night and spend money.

Ross Taylor/Staff
Nicholas Legan, a mechanic for Denmark's Team CSC, prepares a bike for the Ford Tour de Georgia, which This year, the bike race will raise an estimated $250,000 in visitor spending, said Tammy Stout, the executive director of the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
is expected to bring $250,000 in visitor spending to Augusta this year, much of it at hotels, such as the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites.
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The economic impact is based on travel expenses, dining and the 1,000 room nights logged at hotels by cyclists, fans and members of the media.
"Some folks have been here as early as Wednesday, and they'll be here through (today)," Ms. Stout said.
In 2005, the race generated $36.2 million in economic impact statewide, according to a Georgia Tech study. More than 8,000 people watched the tour in person.
Last year was strengthened by cycling legend Lance Armstrong, who announced his retirement at the 2005 Tour de Georgia.
It's unknown whether the absence of Mr. Armstrong will affect tourism dollars, Ms. Stout said.
At the Augusta Marriott Hotel & Suites, there seems to be less buzz surrounding the race than there was last year, said Matt Ricker, the hotel manager.
"With a star like that making that announcement, the buzz was hot last year," he said. "This year, as far as media presence, it's not as visible as it was."
The hotel is still reaping the benefits of the tournament, with or without Mr. Armstrong. The hotel was sold out Monday and is sold out tonight, Mr. Ricker said.
Easter, a typically "soft weekend," was busy, largely because of the race, he said.
Managers of the race believe the economic impact for the state will not diminish this year without the famed cyclist and cancer survivor.
"Cycling is alive and well," said Chris Aronhalt, the managing partner of Medalist Sports, the company coordinating the Tour de Georgia.
Andy Jordan, the owner of Andy Jordan's Bicycle Warehouse on 13th Street, expects to see plenty of "bike junkies" visiting Augusta for the race.
"When they come down they've got to kill time and come into the bike shops," he said. "We think of ourselves as a little bit of an ambassador for the city of Augusta."
In between talking shop and selling handlebar tape, Mr. Jordan recommends dining and recreation possibilities for the guests, he said.
"We try to promote the locally owned restaurants - unique places they are likely to remember," he said.
Jacksonville, Fla., resident Rae Simonds spent Sunday and Monday touring the sights of Augusta. She dined at Blue Sky Kitchen downtown and shopped at the nearby antiques stores and art galleries.
"The downtown is wonderful," said Ms. Simonds, an eight-year cyclist and volunteer at this year's race.
Not all downtown businesses see an increase in foot traffic, however.
Last year, 1102 Downtown Bar & Grill experienced no growth in customers.
"We were watching the race," said General Manager David Alcaraz. "We had a couple tables maybe."
Eric Kinlaw, the owner of The Bee's Knees, sees a major benefit of the race, whether it fills the restaurant or not.
"Anytime there's a positive event downtown, it's good for everybody," he said.
Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.

I like the idea of Macon businsesses making money, but I do not like the idea of those that hype false numbers. It is the same people hyping numbers for these events that want to justify a convention hotel that we do not need, and it is the same people that make up numbers about the SPLOST and that 40% of the tax is paid by outsiders. It is unethical to hype numbers that others will make investment decisions upon. In today's Macon Telegraph Chip Cherry is quoted as saying the tour brought $1.5 to $2 million to Macon. Show me the green facts not hype! Take a look at Louisville, KY where I lived when the Galeria and downtown walkway was promoted, and ask taxpayers if the economic impact is as it was promised. I applaud Augusta, Georgia for analyzing the economic impact in an honest manner. I have been accused of holding my foot on the neck of Macon, and told to move. Treat residents like crap that criticize those that tell lies and tell them to move, but beg for tourists to come in at the same time. What a lousy motto for a town! Beebee

1 comment:

KAT said...

You should send these numbers in to The Macon Telegraph. I think if Chip Cherry is either a)mistaken and using anecdotal numbers or b)lying he should be held accountable.

I have a friend who is a newcomer and despite her work with the Chamber and the Cherry Blossom Festival) says our town is backwards and rude.

I agree