May 27, 2010 (St. Louis, Mo.) --- After a seven-month negotiation with State Tourism, which included a bi-partisan state senate and house approval of $1 million in support for the Tour of Missouri sponsorship, the United States' second biggest professional cycling event and one of the top stage races outside of Europe, will be officially cancelled should earmarked funds not be released by Tourism and the Governor, according to the board of directors of Tour of Missouri, Inc.
"This may be a win for the Missouri Tourism Commission and the Governor, but a huge loss for the state of Missouri and its citizens," said Mike Weiss, chairman of the Tour of Missouri, Inc. "It has been an insanely complicated battle for something so beneficial, and it's left all of us absolutely baffled. This event, in three short years, has blossomed into the crown jewel for the state of Missouri with a broadcast to 150-plus countries, visitors from more than 40 states, direct economic impact of more than $80 million dollars over three years, and garnered state legislative support, only to have funding held up by the director of Tourism and the Governor for 2010.
Weiss added: "What has been lost in the mix is whether this money is better spent on things like print ads or a multi-dimensional approach that garners regional and international publicity for our state. The ROI is evident but we haven't been able to plead our case to the Governor because he won't take our meetings despite all the public support."
Weiss and Vice Chairman Brent Hugh acknowledged and expressed gratitude to the enormous public support and the bi-partisan state senate and house leaders that supported the legislation to appropriate $1,000,000 to Tourism earmarked for sponsorship of the event. They have been declined meetings with the Governor regarding the decision.
"All you really have to do is look at the hundreds of comments posted on various news sites and social media forums to see the overwhelming support for Tourism to fund this event," said Hugh.
Weiss noted that the $3.5 million event budget is less than 30 percent funded by the Missouri Tourism sponsorship and that most of the corporate and city funding has been tied to the assurance of endemic support from the state.
"The success of the Tour of Missouri the past three years has been a result of the public-private partnerships, thanks in part to the initiative of the State, " said Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of Medalist Sports, Inc. the event's managers. "The leadership and support unfortunately appears to no longer exist, which is an integral element of a successful event of this nature. Of course, we are very disappointed, but we are also proud of the Tour's meteoric rise in the sports world, as well as grateful for the long lasting relationships made along the way."
Weiss said Medalist Sports of Atlanta and its marketing partner KOM Sports Marketing of Colorado Springs are "the only group in the country that could have brought the Tour of Missouri to its world-class level" in such a short period of time.
"From the first-class marketing of the event, to the world's best teams, to the flawless execution; the teams, athletes and spectators loved this event," said Weiss. "In three short years, along with the host cities and corporate partners, Medalist and KOM really made this event shine internationally. As a Missouri native, I thought it was great to have a world-class event roll into town every year. I think everyone who experienced this event was very impressed. This race is the rare world-class professional sporting event that everyone could enjoy for free."
Among the milestones and achievements for the event and the state of Missouri:
* Appearances by 2007 and 2009 Tour de France winner Alberto Cantador; Tour de France podium finisher and Olympic medalist Levi Leipheimer; three-time U.S. Professional Champion George Hincapie; six-time stage winner in the 2009 Tour de France Mark Cavendish.
* Tax revenues estimated at $38 million
* Telecast internationally viewers in 173 countries
* Daily telecasts as a bi-lateral agreement with both Versus and Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Kansas City
* Estimated 1.2 million spectators, including 100,000 in last year's finale in Kansas City and 75,000 in St. Louis on its first day
* Visitors from 42 states and 15 countries
* Regional radio promotions into 15 Midwest and Rocky Mountain region markets
* Video News Releases that reached 38 countries
* More than 1,500 media credentialed over three years
* 790 million circulated impressions of event with Missouri by-lines
* Integrated promotional platforms with more than 20 sponsors, including Health and Wellness Exposition attended by an estimated 300,000 people
* Educational Curriculum that was used by 250,000 students in state
* Award winning brand and marketing programs
"We are extremely proud of the marketing and communications programs we established with and for our sponsors and our presenting partner, Missouri Tourism. We sat down in 2007 and crafted a plan together and not only hit every marker on the marketing plan but exceeded them," said Steve Brunner, the President of KOM Sports, the marketing and communications partner of Medalist Sports. "We can only point to the facts, which include an average 20 to 1 Return on Investment and the legacy of one of the top races outside of Europe as proof we accomplished our goals for Missouri. We also added ancillary programs and promotions that included an educational program that reached more than 250,000 children in the state and international and regional publicity for our host cities and Missouri tourist destinations like the Gateway Arch and Pony Express. The event was a picture-postcard of Missouri to the world. "
Weiss added: "It seems only rationale that you can't purchase the type of media, along with goodwill, that the Tour of Missouri brings to a state. The event has been much, much more than a ‘bike race', bringing cities together to be showcased to the world. It drove industry and preached health and wellness. It was really multi-dimensional. The fact that the governor and head of Tourism wouldn't even take a meeting with our team to discuss this event and the reason to withhold earmarked funding, provides insight into reasons that go beyond value placements."
Weiss and Hugh both conceded should Tourism not have a last minute change of heart, or a corporate partner step in the 12th hour, the event will be history.
"Unfortunately, it's proven once these events are gone, they don't come back," he added.
The Tour of Missouri, Inc. is a non-profit organization, and is solely established for the execution and licensing of the event. The event started in 2007 and has routed to more than 25 cities over the course of the past three years. The winners of the event all have been Americans and include current U.S. Professional Champion George Hincapie, 2008 Tour de France fourth-place finisher Christian Vande Velde, and Dave Zabriskie, the only American to win a stage at professional cycling's three major races: Tour de France, Tour of Italy and Tour of Spain. The event attracted more than 1 million spectators over three years and has been seen in 173 countries through a live internet telecast. The event was one of the top five-ranked races outside Europe.
Contacts: Priscilla Visintine, 314.422.5646 or Mike Weiss, 314.920.9606