(Photo Credit: Fort Collins Coloradoan)
COLORADOAN - The economic value of bringing an international pro cycling race to downtown Fort Collins may not be fully measured in dollars and cents but in exposing a global television audience to Northern Colorado.
With the USA Pro Challenge rolling through Larimer County on Aug. 24, portions of Windsor, Estes Park, Loveland, Fort Collins and unincorporated Larimer County are getting ready for their close up on a worldwide stage the size of which may be unparalleled in the region's history. But few are willing to estimate how that might translate into money in merchants' pockets when 20,000 to 40,000 spectators flood Old Town for the conclusion of the week-long race's penultimate stage.
"The economic upside we all saw, including the cities, wasn't about tax revenue on Aug. 24, it was about the marketing of our region," said Eric Thompson, an avid cyclist and spokesman for the committee organizing the event's sixth stage.
"We are putting this world-class event on our world-class stage," he said. "This is a really unique opportunity to show off all the amazing amenities we have."
More than 1 million people are expected to line the 683-mile USA Pro Challenge course as it winds in stages from Aspen to Denver. Several million more people throughout 170 countries are expected to watch Stage 6, broadcast live on NBC networks.
The coverage will take viewers through some of Larimer County's most spectacular vistas including the Big Thompson Canyon, Estes Park, Horsetooth Reservoir and Old Town Fort Collins.
Beaming those images to a worldwide audience is worth more than money can buy, said Jim Clark, executive director of the Fort Collins Convention & Visitors Bureau. Cities that have hosted the race in the past estimate the media impact alone to be between $2 million and $4 million.
Last year's race generated $99.6 million in total economic impact for the state, including $81.5 million spent on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment, according to event organizers. The remaining economic impact came from team, staff, sponsor and vendor spending, employment created by the event and the resulting tax effects of the race. The Pro Challenge does not break its numbers down by region or stage.
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