Amgen Tour of California: No small impact, no small cost |

Amgen Tour of California: No small impact, no small cost

Cyclists speed through Long Beach, Calif., during the seventh and final stage of the second annual Amgen Tour of California bike race on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007. (AP Photo/Branimir Kvartuc)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Winter has not left. The trees are still sheathed in ice, the roads blanketed in slush, driveways still lined in snow. And despite winter weather conditions, the buzz among businesses around the basin is all about cycling.

On May 15, the Amgen Tour of California will be rolling through the basin, and tour officials are estimating a local impact to businesses of $5-10 million in visitor revenues from May 13 to the beginning of Stage 3 on May 17.

These estimates are only part of a three-pronged measurement of the race’s financial impact to the region, said Andy Chapman, tourism director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. The NLTRA is co-sponsoring the tour with the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority in South Lake Tahoe.

The NLTRA is measuring the race’s economic impact in the region from the day Lake Tahoe was announced as a host location for the race, in addition to the financial impacts from the race days and the region’s long-term benefits of being branded as a biking destination, Chapman said.

“Based on previous races, the annual economic impact to the state of California is estimated to be $100 million,” Chapman said.

The anticipated returns come with a hefty investment from sponsorships for the race.

While there are no direct costs for tour organizers, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, to host the race, there was a huge need to secure sponsorships for the race in the way of hotels, facilities and volunteers, Chapman said.

“There was not a sponsorship cost provided, but basically all the elements related to the local effort (must be) covered,” Chapman said.

More than 2,300 hotel rooms were donated for race – more than 700 from the North Shore and more than 1,600 from the South Shore.

Though Chapman did not report current sponsorship totals, he said sponsorship levels range between $1,000 to $25,000 plus.

The tour will also demand a high number of volunteers, about 350 on the South Shore and 250 on the North Shore, with 95 percent of those volunteers needed as course marshals – largely responsible for crowd control, he added.

Korbel Champagne, the primary sponsor of Tahoe’s Stage 1 and Stage 2 and has increased its sponsorship donations from previous years, said Margie Healy, the vice president director of marketing.

This year will be the first year for the company as a primary sponsor, a decision made because of the tour’s constant success and positive influence with California’s many communities, Healy added.

“We found that doing sponsorships of sporting events like this gives us an opportunity to engage with our consumers but also with our distributors,” she said. “I think that we’re kind of getting our toes wet this year (as a primary sponsor).”

Though the company may be a primary sponsor for the first time this year, it isn’t new to Tahoe. Korbel has been a sponsor of NBC Sports’ 22nd Annual American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe.

Another regional sponsor for the tour is the Sacramento County Airport System which, like Korbel, sees the tour as a powerful vehicle to highlight region and draw visitors.

“As gateway to Northern California and two world class destinations – Napa and Tahoe – Sacramento International Airport is proud to sponsor this event that challenges cycling’s most elite athletes and inspires race fans to visit Sacramento and the region,” said Hardy Acree, SCAS director of airports.

With big name backing and new support coming in daily from volunteers and businesses alike Chapman said he is anticipates strong support as the race expands itself into Tahoe.

“We are well underway on the volunteer effort and are confident we will have the numbers we need,” Chapman said.

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