Apr 18, 2013 9:25 PM by Connie Tran, KSBY News

Amgen Tour of California cost concerns

California's version of the Tour de France will role through the Central Coast once again. The annual Amgen Tour of California stops in Avila Beach on Thursday, May 16 for Stage 5. The visit, as all of the stops do, costs each individual city some money.

"We want to make this part of an all day event," said San Luis Obispo County Third District Supervisor Adam Hill of the tour stopping in Avila Beach.

Thousands of spectators, bike enthusiasts, and visitors are expected to line the streets of the quaint little beach town. Hopefully, said Hill, bringing just as many wallets along with them.

He said, "It has a short term boost for the couple of days that people can expect to do well, both the hoteliers and the businesses, and then the longer term picture, just getting us kinda exposure."

But, hosting such a large event as the Amgen Tour of California, does not come cheap. Hill said the Avila Business Alliance gave $30,000 to Amgen- money from hotel taxes- so in turn, no tax payer money was used to fund the event. That 30K is expected to go towards bicyclists' meals and accommodations. Hill said Amgen, whose organizer is the entertainment company AEG, is picking up the county expenses, like extra Sheriff deputy patrols, public works, and shuttle services.

Other Central Coast cities that have hosted Amgen in the past, decided to take to take a pass this time.

Jim Richardson, the mayor of Solvang, said Amgen was not willing to cover the same expenses they will cover in Avila Beach, which is why this year's bid proved to be too much.

"What we were willing to bid was less than what they were willing to accept. Each year, the tour demands more out of the sponsorships, and we just couldn't do it this year," said Richardson.

He said the Amgen tour has stopped in the Danish town four times. Each year, the costs varied between $80,000 - $120,000, but he said all the money, which was raised privately, was worth it. He said he had hoped Amgen felt the same.

Richardson said, "We thought because of that, that the pressure would be that they would try to cooperate with us, and give us the benefit of the doubt, and negotiate more in our favor, but it didn't happen."

He said it would have cost Solvang organizers about $140,000 - $150,000 to fund the race this year.

However, Lindsay Miller with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce said, "I think the thing that people forget, is that the tour's really, their mission and vision from the beginning was to have this change. They didn't want to go to the same cities year after year."

The Amgen Tour has sped through San Luis Obispo three times. Even though this year's expectation bar from Amgen was also set too high for SLO, Miller said, that's okay.

She said, "Sponsorships were harder to get, and so to bridge the gap between costs and raising the funds, it definitely became harder and harder."

Both Richardson and Miller agree that the payoff for having the Amgen Tour roll through their respective cities, are still paying out.

"So many people that still come, and they reference that they saw us on the Amgen Tour of California," said Miller.

Richardson agreed, "It was a very exciting experience. The town came alive. There were people from all over the United States and the world that came to Solvang."

An experience Hill hopes Avila Beach will get, too.

Hill said, "People all over the world will get to see this, this charming little town and we hope, of course, that that will be appealing to a lot of people."

Richardson and Miller also both said that the Amgen Tour also makes their cities more renowned for being bike friendly, something they said, was very important.



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