Our View: Keeping wheels spinning
Measuring the economic rewards of hosting the USA Pro Challenge
Show us the ‘measurables’
After 98 miles and some deceptively taxing hill climbs, the difference between first and 15th place in the opening circuit race of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge bicycle race here Aug. 17 could be measured in a handful of seconds. We think it’s time for the community of Steamboat Springs to scrutinize the measurable results — or “measurables,” in marketing parlance — that would allow us to accurately gauge the rewards reaped by the remarkable effort that made this year’s event so successful.
Show us the ‘measurables’
If Steamboat Springs had a bicycling Hall of Fame, 2015 USA co-chairpersons Jim Schneider and Kara Stoller would earn our vote for immediate induction.
Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association CEO Jim Clark said it well in an Aug. 19 letter to the editor, in which he praised city of Steamboat Springs employees, including police patrol and community service officers, the Public Works Department and the GIS mapping for their “can-do” attitude and more.
Listening to the police scanner throughout the day, we were very aware of the precise communication among law enforcement officers and combined communication that kept everyone safe and largely overcame significant challenges in routing traffic through town. It could not have gone better.
The Chamber, Ski Corp., the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, hundreds of volunteers and many local businesses all played a role. And the lodging community in particular, with donations of many rooms for athletes, race support crews and television crews, came through in a big way.
This year marked the third time in five years Steamboat has hosted at least a portion of a USA Pro Challenge Race, and at the risk of sounding like cynics, we think it’s time to have a candid conversation about the tangible results Steamboat Springs can expect to see from this tremendous expenditure of funds and energy. After all, this isn’t just a big two-wheeled party, but rather an effort to enhance Steamboat as a bicycling destination.
We know from reporting in previous years that, often, the most ambitious sporting events hosted by Steamboat and the Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. have been dependent on a television contract. When Steamboat hosted a series of Nordic Combined World Cups in the 1990s that was the case, and the same was true of other competitive skiing events. Ski Corp. officials told us they were especially keen on getting positive ratings shares in December, while a good portion of advance ski season reservations were still in play.
That’s part of why we were disappointed to learn this year’s USA Pro Challenge would not be seen on cable TV in most parts of Colorado, in spite of the fact Universal Sports has done an outstanding job of televising the races. The Denver Post reported in the midst of this week’s races that Comcast, the dominant cable provider in Colorado with 800,000 subscribers (and 22 million subscribers nationally) does not offer Universal Sports.
Universal Sports is available in the state on Dish Network, DirecTV and CenturyLink and nationally on providers including Time Warner and Cox Cable. Cycling fans could also find live feeds of the races on a couple of Web pages. NBC was scheduled to air coverage of the final leg of the Pro Challenge from Golden to Denver on Sunday. That’s a boost for cities on the Front Range.
State tourism officials have said they can’t afford to purchase advertising in Europe, and the Universal Sports broadcasts allow them to reach cycling fans in 200 counties who may have limited awareness of Colorado. State Tourism Director Al White told the Post his agency has seen a “significant increase” in international bikers coming to Colorado because of the race.
If that is happening in Routt County and Steamboat Springs, we aren’t aware of it.
Perhaps the Colorado Tourism Office would entertain subsidizing some of the cost of providing free rooms to race crews, because in 2015 in Steamboat Springs, private condominium owners and their management companies were making the sacrifice.
We find the USA Pro Challenge to be tremendously exciting and look to forward welcoming another race, perhaps in 2017.
In the meantime, like any marketing professional, we want to see the measurables. And we think the entire community of Steamboat Springs is entitled to that knowledge.
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