Inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge Results in $83.5 Million Economic Impact to State of Colorado

The results are in and they are fabulous. The inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge attracted more than 1 million spectators from around the state, the country and the world, and the Colorado economy was the beneficiary of $83.5 million in economic impact thanks to a successful first-year event August 22-28.    As a virtual postcard for the State of Colorado, the race received 25 hours of national television coverage on NBC and Versus, in addition to airing in 161 countries and territories internationally. Spread that out into the 11 Colorado host communities and all that bordered around it and the result is wow, we all felt it.

“The crowds were big, they were enthusiastic, they spent money in every host city, and just as importantly, they traveled to Colorado especially to see this race,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO and Co-Chairman of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  “More than 22% of the 1,000,000+ spectators at our race visited us from outside Colorado.  And with 94% reporting they will return next year, that’s a tremendous benefit for the State of Colorado in 2011 and in the future.”

The 2011 race attracted spectators from at least 39 states in the nation, and at least 16 other countries.  It also proved an unprecedented following among Colorado residents, one of the significant contributing factors to the level of enthusiasm displayed by spectators along the entire 518-mile course.

More than $67 million came in the form of direct spending by traveling spectators.  Both those fans from outside the state and Coloradans traveling 50 miles or more to take in an event stage contributed $67.4 million on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment.  The remaining economic impact comes in the form of team, staff, sponsor and vendor spending, employment created by the event, and the resulting tax effects of the race.

“We have something here in Colorado that is nearly impossible to duplicate: beautiful scenery, great amenities, and many world-renowned destinations,” said Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.  “Future USA Pro Challenge races will bring even more international attention to Colorado and lock in the state as the place to be in the summer.”

Further analysis points at additional areas of success:

•             Spectators made this event a family affair.  Party sizes for traveling spectators were large, averaging five+ people per party.

•             The average household income of attendees was $113,918.

•             Spectators were satisfied with almost all parts of the race and the experience, especially impressive for a first-year event.  More than 94% answered good or very good when asked their satisfaction with the race.

•             At 94% responding likely or very likely to return next year, the number of people who plan to watch the race again is solid, a good preliminary sign for the event’s future.

•             Among out-of-state visitors, 71.6% said the USA Pro Cycling Challenge was the reason for their trip to Colorado.

•             Nearly half of spectators in attendance reported themselves as cycling enthusiasts who participate in club rides, attend races and support cycling charities.  More than 30% reported they ride a bike for fitness, while roughly one quarter responded they ride a bike occasionally or not at all.

•             This was an audience that watches major cycling events on television, and appreciates the world class level of competition at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  It was also a dedicated audience, with a majority listing the race as a “very important” part of their trip planning.

•             Spectators’ experiences with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge positively influence their view of the State of Colorado, and the likelihood of returning to the state in the future.  Nearly 85% of out-of-state visitors said they are more likely or much more likely to visit Colorado again based on their experience at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

“The numbers speak volumes, but the enthusiasm I saw here in Denver alone really tells the story,” said Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver.  “With 2 hours of live television and nearly one quarter million fans coming out to see the race in downtown Denver, this was a tremendous showcase for our true cycling town.”

About the Research Study

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge commissioned IFM, a global sports research firm with 20+ years of cycling experience around the world,  to conduct a quantitative research study to measure the overall economic impact of this inaugural cycling event, which took place throughout Colorado from August 22-28, 2011.

IFM designed this study from the outset to address many of the contentious issues surrounding economic impact assessments. Key areas addressed included:

•             Substitution effects. Since local fans will often spend similar amounts on local sports, and other, entertainments, IFM did not include the local fan spend in their economic impact report.

•             Time shifting. Colorado is an attractive destination for travel, so IFM deliberately filtered respondents to ensure they were not capturing data from spectators already in Colorado, independent of the race, and also used elimination questions to remove those fans who intended to come to Colorado in the near future independent of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

•             Large, deep sampling procedures. Large samples were taken at all stages, distributed across the race locations.

About the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

For seven consecutive days, 135 of the world’s top athletes raced across 518 miles through the majestic Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they ever had to endure, more than two miles in elevation.  It featured the best of the best in professional cycling, competing on a challenging course through some of America’s most beautiful scenery, including cities such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs.

Referred to as “America’s Race” the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge took place August 22-28, 2011.  More than 1 million spectators viewed this race from the roadsides along the route while many more watched the race on television in 161 countries and territories, including on NBC and Versus.  The USA Pro Cycling Challenge was one of the largest cycling events in United States history.

On the final day, Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack was awarded the Quiznos Leader Jersey and crowned the first-ever champion of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in front of a monumental crowd in downtown Denver.   Elia Viviani took the Smashburger Sprint Jersey, Tejay Van Garderen the Sheets Best Young Rider Jersey, Rafael Montiel captured the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey and the Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey of the final stage went to Timmy Duggan.

The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, recently upgraded to a 2.HC ranking, the highest registration level short of the World Tour, will take place in Colorado August 20-26, 2012.  More information can be found on their website and Twitter page @USAProChallenge.