Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, whose parent company owns Tour of California, cited San Diego County's bureaucratic inefficiency and difficulties as the reason why AEG decided to bypass San Diego next year.
Messick went on to say that, “With the exception of the city of San Francisco, we struggle more in San Diego County than anywhere else. Just with the day-to-day of getting stuff done. Permits, city services. What we call plumbing.”
(Photos by Charlie Neuman from The San Diego Union Tribune).
The article in its entirety can be read here or below:
8:07 p.m. October 21, 2009
The Amgen Tour of California cycling race will not return to San Diego County next year.
Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, whose parent company owns the event, confirmed via e-mail Wednesday that the stage race is bypassing San Diego.
Robin Bettin, Escondido's assistant director of community services, also said the race will not be back.
“It's unfortunate for the city,” Bettin said. “It was a great event.”
Race organizers have scheduled news conferences throughout the state Thursday to announce the 2010 course.
Started in 2006, the Tour of California has developed into the most popular stage race in the United States. Featuring a starting field of 16 pro teams and nearly 150 cyclists, the race came to San Diego County for the first time in February.
Buoyed by Lance Armstrong's presence after a 3½-year retirement, plus a taxing, scenic climb up Palomar Mountain, the 96.8-mile stage that started in Rancho Bernardo and finished in downtown Escondido attracted tremendous spectator turnouts. One source estimated the stage drew nearly 300,000 fans, although some believed the figure was inflated.
“This is the largest crowd I've ever seen on American soil in the last 25 years,” race director Jim Birrell said.
Australian pro cyclist Michael Rogers referred to the atmosphere along Palomar Mountain as “Tour de France stuff.”
But while he was encouraged with the fan support, Messick said organizing an event in San Diego County was difficult.
“With the exception of the city of San Francisco, we struggle more in San Diego County than anywhere else,” Messick said in March. “Just with the day-to-day of getting stuff done. Permits, city services. What we call plumbing.”
Messick would not comment further Wednesday other than to confirm the event was not returning.
Qualcomm CEO Jeff Jacobs and David Vigil, Qualcomm's vice president of business development, were instrumental in bringing the race here. Both donated money to cover expenses for the city of Escondido.
Between Jacobs and Vigil's contributions, plus money from race organizers, Bettin said there “wasn't a net loss” for the city.
Bettin said that on June 26, Escondido made a $200,000 “letter of commitment” to race organizers to host a 2010 stage.
Regarding the race now skipping Escondido, Bettin said, “It's kind of good news, bad news. It's bad news because we lost an event with a lot of visibility. To a much smaller degree, (it's good news because) we don't have to worry about raising that kind of money.”
Jacobs, an avid cyclist who had raced at Ironman Hawaii three times, said he would have been willing to financially support the race again next year.
A San Diego North Convention & Visitors Bureau spokesperson said the event accounted for 2,000 booked hotel room nights.
“It was a huge economic boost for the whole community,” said Debra Rosen, president and CEO of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce. “It put Escondido on the map. There was just no negative to it. It was all positive.”
Said Lisa Grumel, co-owner of Vincent's restaurant in Escondido, “I'm disappointed it won't be returning. It brought so much energy to Escondido.”
Wow, what a serious loss for our county. The response offered so far by the city of Escondido seems rather soft. Robin Bettin, Escondido's assistant director of community services, told SDUT reporter, Don Norcross, that “It's kind of good news, bad news. It's bad news because we lost an event with a lot of visibility. To a much smaller degree, (it's good news because) we don't have to worry about raising that kind of money.”
This is quite a conservative analysis of what was lost. 'Visibility'? A lot more than just 'visibility' will be lost from Tour de California bypassing San Diego. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Plenty of visibility will be gained--the incompetence and inefficiency of San Diego's bureaucracy is becoming plenty visible and apparent to people throughout San Diego, in addition to cycling fans all over California and the U.S.
What will be lost is the opportunity for nearly 300,000 people to come together, to do something active at a "Tour de France-like" pro-bike social event in our very own San Diego county. In addition, what will also be lost is a significant degree of local economic generation; 2,000 people booked hotel rooms in Escondido for Tour de California earlier this year. The room fees that would have generated economic stimulation, including the money those visitors would have been spent on food and other goods, will be lost.
According to Bettin, the good news is that the city of Escondido and San Diego County don't have to work to raise the money [roughly $200,000 it seems], to put the event on. Since San Diego County failed to accommodate the Tour of California earlier this year, the tour will not involve San Diego in 2010--thus, with no Tour of California in San Diego, there will be no Tour of California-related work conducted by San Diego County employees.
How exactly is that good news for San Diego? That's only "good" news for the employees who would have had to do the work. Isn't that why it's called "work" and isn't that why you get paid to do it?
It sounds like someone's workload just got easier. And now we're being told that's the 'good news.'
San Diego officials dropped the ball on the Tour of California.
San Diego should be a mainstay of the Tour of California race and local officials should work harder and negotiate more firmly to make sure that it is.
Mr. Messick’s statements shed new light on the inefficiencies of San Diego’s historically troubled bureaucracy.Some SDUT commenters, are calling for an investigation into who exactly dropped the ball on this issue: