Good news – the Tour of Missouri 2009 is on. Democrat Governor Jay Nixon did not approve the recommendation from the Department of Economic Development that $1.5 million be cut from the Division of Tourism budget allocated to the race.
Last week, the Tour was in jeopardy when, with less than two months before the start of the race, the news of the recommendation was announced and the subsidy was frozen. A save the race effort was launched – spearheaded by Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who also is chairman of the Tourism Commission - to galvanize fans to contact the office of the Governor to demand that the funds be allocated.
An economic analysis of last year’s race, executed by Germany-based IFM Sports, found that spectators spent nearly $30 million, slightly more than half of which came from non-Missourians. Was it the study or the fans that brought the decision to move forwards with the race? Does it matter?
The event has a $3.3 million budget that relies on $1.5 million from the state Tourism Division, $500,000 from a state finance board and the rest from corporate and private donors.
In a statement, Kinder said that while “the state faces tremendous financial challenges”, the race should proceed as planned. But he has requested transparency and accountability of al expenditures for 2007 and 2008, and of budgeted expenditures and contracts for 2009.
“The race will go on this year, and Missourians deserve to know that state funds for the event are used transparently and accountably. They should know precisely how money for the Tour of Missouri is being spent, and that the event is being run in a way that minimizes the cost to taxpayers.”
Continuing in the good news department, 28 hours will be televised during the race held 7-13 September, a record number for this event, live on the web and UniversalSports, or delayed on Versus and For Sports Midwest.
As for 2010? well let’s get done with this race first but maybe this extra publicity has helped. Kinder said in a press conference earlier today that “the attention, ironically, that this little dust up has caused, it has given our race a more charged up effect with this 2009 version.”
Lastly, for fans planning to attend the Tour of Missouri, why not show up a few days earlier to support the Women’s Tour of Missouri, held from 4-7 September as part of the THF Realty Gateway Cup. The Tour of Missouri Women’s Finale will be the final event of The THF Realty Gateway Cup, leading into Stage 1 of the Tour of Missouri in St-Louis on Labor Day.