Did Pro Cycle Live Up to Its Hype? No and Yes.
by Gus Jarvis
Aug 30, 2012 | 3394 views | 2 2 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SUCKERS! - Specially made U.S. Pro Cycle Challenge lollipops at The Sweet Life are still available, more than a week after the event passed through Telluride. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
SUCKERS! - Specially made U.S. Pro Cycle Challenge lollipops at The Sweet Life are still available, more than a week after the event passed through Telluride. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
WHERE'S THE CROWD? - The predicted crowds of 15-20,000 did not materialize on Telluride's main street to watch the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge, on Monday, Aug. 21. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)
WHERE'S THE CROWD? - The predicted crowds of 15-20,000 did not materialize on Telluride's main street to watch the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge, on Monday, Aug. 21. (Photo by Brett Schreckengost)

Telluride Attendance Was Far Below Expectations, Yet Many Believe it Was Worth It

TELLURIDE – Few people who saw the Stage 1 Telluride finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge would disagree that it was exciting.  But now, more than a week after what was touted in advance as one of the largest events ever to come to Telluride, many are asking if the event lived up to its hype.

In particular, businesses say it failed to deliver the promised economic impact.  

“What I am hearing on a pretty regular basis now is that we didn’t hit the numbers that were anticipated, but it was an outstanding event and we should think about doing it again,” Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said on Tuesday,

An informal survey of Telluride businesses suggests that Fraser’s conclusion is generally shared. Most agree the event was worthwhile, if only because of the television exposure it brought to Telluride. But for immediate economic impact, the event fell flat.

“We didn’t know how many people to expect,” Fraser said. “I continued to ask the Medalist Sports people every time we had a meeting with them, and they couldn’t guarantee how many people would show up. They felt relatively comfortable with 20,000 after looking at what happened the previous year in Salida and other towns.”

Fraser said attendance during the event was nowhere near that 20,000 mark and the current estimate is there were 5,000 or 6,000 people in attendance for the race “but it could be less than that.”

Still, Fraser said, initial reports after the event were nonetheless positive. He’s heard that restaurants did well, with a sampling of restaurants reporting business up by 38 percent in comparison to previous years’ figures. With places like the Sheridan Hotel, the Hotel Madeline and the Peaks close to selling out for the event, Fraser said lodging “got a bump but not a big bump.”

As for retail, he’s heard that the event was a letdown. Worse, restricted access to main street leading up to the finish may have stunted traffic in and out of shops.

“Overall, I would have to say we expected greater numbers and we did not hit those numbers but I still feel the long term benefits to the community are there,” Fraser said.

Charlie Kane, co-owner of the Floradora Saloon, expressed that same view at Tuesday’s meeting of the Telluride Town Council.

“We had eight people instead of 300 people that morning, but we are happy,” Kane said. “I would encourage town to have them again.”

“We were strongly staffed and ready for it,” Todd Tice, co-owner of Telluride Trappings & Toggery. “Overall, we were down that day. We were hoping to hit a home run but we were down. I don’t have a problem with closing down main street. Hopefully we will see people the day before or the day after the event but it was pretty quiet for us.”

Tice’s partner at the Toggery, Wendy Basham, added that they know what to expect if the event comes next year.

“We know for next year it will be business as usual,” Basham said.

Expecting an influx of customers similar to Telluride’s Fourth of July celebration, the Sweet Life owner Jennifer Hayes prepared by making extra ice cream and specially-crafted lollipops for the event.

“We were super, super well stocked and ready,” Hayes said. “It was a little disappointing because we were excited for it to be just crazy. We made a ton of ice cream but thankfully it didn’t go bad.”

Hayes said the day’s rainy weather may have had an impact on low attendance levels on main street, and a lot of locals may have stayed away from downtown Telluride because of the high number of people that were estimated to attend. All this being said, Hayes said she would continue to support hosting the race next year.

“It was great for Telluride, and it would be great if we could have it again,” she said. “I think what happened is a lot of locals got scared away. We should absolutely do it again, but do it differently next time by not shutting down the road into town so early. I think that was the biggest problem.”

Like the Sweet Life, the Cornerhouse Grille wasn’t inundated with a wave of patrons before, during or after the event.  But like Hayes, owner Kenny Rosen said the event was great for Telluride and everything should be done to keep it coming back.

“I over-ordered food and booze, but the impact of the event was negligible,” Rosen said. “It was like any normal Monday. I was hoping for a huge day but I am not going to complain. Overall, I think it was a great event and it will explode in popularity over the next few years. It does such a good job of showcasing our state and Telluride needs to be on that list.”

Customs House owner Ted Wilson said that for all the effort and money that went into bringing the race to Telluride, he would have liked to see more collateral benefits to the town.

“My biggest concern, and I think it’s valid, is how much did it cost?” Wilson said. “Telluride struggles to get tourists here as it is. Did we blow our wad on this one event? Did this bike race basically hijack our tourism for six months? I understand the marketing aspect of this, but in a lot of ways, it’s fleeting. Once the TV is turned off, Telluride is forgotten.”

Besides the $3,700 the towns of Mountain Village and Telluride spent to pay for comp rooms for the event, Fraser said cost figures are not yet in. And once they are figured, representatives from both towns, the Telluride Tourism Board and the local organizing committee will sit down and decide if hosting the Pro Challenge was worth it.

“Assuming we get offered a spot next year, we will have to sit down and ask ourselves, ‘Did this make sense?’” Fraser said. “Personally, I believe it did. I feel we could probably go into another one with some changes in mind and with strong recommendations to make it better, not only for us, but for the Pro Cycling Challenge as well.”

Telluride Tourism Board President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Martelon admits that Telluride was ready for about three times the number of people that actually attended the event, but he asked: Is it better to over prepare or under prepare?

“Do you get ready for three times the amount or do you just get ready for one-fourth the amount and have three times the amount show up?” Martelon wondered. “I can’t say enough about the effort this community gave to put this together. It was the town that did this. I would personally be excited to do it again but I would defer to the community. The community needs to embrace it the same way the Aspen community embraced the X-Games. I wonder what Aspen would have done if they weren’t happy with the X-Games the first year?”

Email: gjarvis@watchnewspapers.com

Twitter: @gusgusj

Comments-icon Post a Comment
August 31, 2012
Come on -Build it and they will come ? ! Martelon ever heard of the Mountain Morgue, I mean Village ? X games attracts over 200,000 people and they have accommodations for them.

Paying county and city employees double time to hang out all weekend is a waste -the total cost of man hours and paving and unpaving will never be counted.

If we are inviting a pack of locust to invade for a day once a year dont waste money on it -main street was very busy fri sat and sunday -and we did not have to OVER prepare for the 250 people who showed up on MOnday-most of them were paid to be there.

Also its time for the hypocritical mayors to drop the zero waste/emissions program since the bike race had more gigantic trucks and vehicles than have ever been assembled at one time on main street.

These government employees love using your tax dollars for THEIR events-after all its YOUR loss not theirs.
August 31, 2012
Great post Pretty Please..Martelon will sacrifice our peaceful streets, loves MuniRevs as much as we in the private sector hate it, run us into the poor house for "good" numbers..