The UCI Road World Championships is to cycling what the FIFA World Cup is to soccer. In Europe, it’s one of the biggest international sporting events. Unlike the professional Tour de France, where cyclists ride for sponsored, trade-name teams, the UCI Worlds features the top men and women racing under their countries’ flags. The influx of spectators, media and athletes will dwarf the 2014 USA Cycling collegiate races held in Richmond. (Photo by Graham Watson)
The 2015 UCI Road World Championships in September were the boon organizers advertised – and then some – according to an economic impact report released this week.
Governor Terry McAuliffe, Mayor Dwight C. Jones and Tim Miller, the chief operating officer of the local nonprofit that organized the races, highlighted the event’s economic impact on the city, region and state at a press conference held Friday afternoon at the Jefferson Hotel. A Chmura Economics & Analytics report published this week details nearly $88 million in direct impact for the region associated with the nine-day event, as well as a $170 million economic impact across the state.
“We faced down the doubters and I think that history shows that we did the right thing,” Jones said, adding that the event was “…nine days that I think really has changed our city’s trajectory and understanding of who we are and what we can accomplish… .”
The spending figures are derived from surveys of 407 people who attended the races and incorporate the estimated 645,000 spectators who watched the races.
“It turned out better than I think anyone anticipated,” McAuliffe said.
The governor said on his trade trips abroad, particularly to the Middle East, he has already seen a difference in the state’s marketability. “Everybody in the Middle East watched this bike race,” he said. “I can just tell you, as probably the most traveled governor in the country, this race has made my job so much easier to bring business to the commonwealth of Virginia.”
The event marked the first time in three decades the Road World Championships were held in the U.S. The city’s preparations were the subject of skepticism leading up to the event, but in its aftermath, many lauded it as a success.
None of it would have been possible without Jones backing the event, Miller said. He adds that the local organizing committee is exploring the possibility of the city hosting another cycling event of some kind in the future.
“As the mayor has said, Richmond is capable of doing anything,” Miller said. “It’s not a question of if we can, but if we will, and we’re looking into it.”
“There are a lot of people asking what’s next after such a successful event, I will tell you that we