When Amgen’s Tour of California rolls into town, people take notice. The premier 650-mile cycling race covers seven stages over eight days and is a yearly event, launched in 2006. In 2016, the tour passed through the city of Ventura. In 2018, could it launch from here?
On Monday, Sept. 25, the Ventura City Council approved a recommendation from City Manager Mark Watkins, Community Development Director Jeffrey Lambert and Parks, Recreation and Community Partnerships Director Nancy O’Connor to submit a letter of intent to the Amgen Tour of California, indicating a desire to be the host city for stage 2 of the annual tour on May 14, 2018.
Also approved: authorization to transfer up to $75,000 from the General Fund to cover costs associated with security and organization of the event.
Promoters of the collaboration with the tour say that the event would boost economic development and would provide a “unique opportunity for the city to be showcased by an international audience.” The 2017 race, which concluded in May, had a global audience of 16.6 million viewers broadcast on various stations around the world, including NBC.
The $75,000 budget includes funds for police service (estimated at $20,000), planning ($19,500), race-day staff ($23,400) and EMT services ($1,000). Organizers say, however, that the tour would more than offset the costs.
Lambert says that having the tour not just pass through Ventura but be an official stop would bolster the city’s global reputation, adding that Amgen was impressed by the city’s welcome of the tour in 2016, when Cabrillo Middle School’s entire student body spelled “Ventura” as the cyclists passed by.
“It would bring attention to the pier, the Mission, the historic city hall; the route will bring some visual notoriety to the city, being broadcast all over the world,” said Lambert. “A little less tangible, but we think for people following the race, it’ll put Ventura on the map for them, and a lot of times people want to come and ride the route that the Amgen Tour route was.”
Lambert adds that the city would be required to provide a certain number of hotel rooms, including 30 VIP rooms, but that they “expect the tour will bring 600 extra rooms that will be paid for that one night; that’s a big deal,” with the cyclists and their guests coming into town on Sunday, May 13, 2018.
Tobias Smith, program director at the Ventura BikeHub and a member of the BikeVentura Team, says that the city would see many benefits now and in the future, should the tour choose Ventura.
“When you get to see world-class racers, it brings attention to cycling as a whole,” said Smith. “From cycling lanes to culture, our main benefit is going to be that there is something to talk about.”
No decision has been made as yet regarding the 2018 Tour. Lambert expects that the city’s letter will be sent on Friday, Sept. 29. For more information on the Tour, visit www.amgentourofcalifornia.com.