After months of fighting for survival which included a fan support campaign, the death knell was rung today when no money was set aside in the state budget for the race. AP reports that on Thursday, the Missouri Tourism Commission budget committee approved a $13.4 million spending plan that does not includes state money for the race. The budget plan still must go before the full commission.
According to the RiverFrontTimes, “There are reports that representatives of Medalist Sports, which produces the event, have pulled out,” which they are trying to confirm. Medalist Sports, the management company that runs the event, have said previously that the race will likely have to be canceled if the state does not subsidize it.
For its fourth edition, the UCI 2.HC race was scheduled for August 30 – September 5, 2010.
This raise the question: In these tough economic times, should public (state) money be used to fund a professional bike race? For the Tour of Missouri to return, it must find public sponsor(s).
The race became a tug of war between its main champion Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon as the state faced a budget crisis. Money for the event was provided by the state’s tourism budget the last three years with Kinder its biggest advocate.
In 2009, according to the Associated Press, only $1.344 million of the race’s $3.5 million budget came from corporate sponsors. This year organizers were asking $1 million, a third less that what was appropriated last year.
Simply put the race needed legislative approval for funding to continue.
A special campaign, Support the Tour of Missouri, was launched to solicit support for the race and fans were asked to contact appropriate state legislators, the Governor’s office and/or donate funds.