This morning, the editors of the Kansas City Star said the same thing I have been saying about the Tour of Missouri: Canceling is a losing idea.
It is irrelevant to me whether the Department of Economic Development’s recommendation to withhold a pledged contribution to the race from the state of Missouri was based on penny-pinching in a tough economy or on politics in a two-party state.
The Tour of Missouri, which is scheduled to begin in St. Louis this year, is one of only a couple international level bicycle races held in the United States, and — though much younger than the venerable Tour de France --it already draws elite riders, visitors, and attention from all over the world. According to the Star, a study of the economic impact of the race last year estimated 430,000 spectators spent almost $30 million, attracting tourists from 32 states and 21 countries. That is, as the Star says, a good direct economic and indirect marketing return on a $1.5 million investment. As I told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Tony Messenger yesterday, the Tour of Missouri tells people unexpected things about Missouri.
The Missouri Division of Tourism met yesterday to affirm its intention to spend money on the race, funding it with cuts in other programs and some personnel shuffling. The final card, though, is probably the state of Missouri’s to play: will someone actually write the check?
I hope so.