Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Returning...Without Subsidies

I first broke the news on WTSP today that the city of St. Petersburg will give a road race organizer a third chance to make a first impression, inviting it to bring the “St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon” back to town in March 2017.

This blog helped expose how the Competitor Group Inc., a San Diego company best-known for its “Rock ‘n’ Roll” half marathon series, drew disappointing crowds to its events in St. Petersburg in 2012 and 2013 – despite receiving $130,000 in public subsidies each year – before pulling out of the market completely prior to 2014’s events. It also purchased the successful St. Pete Women’s Half Marathon from a local company, only to cancel the race two months before its Nov. 2014 running.

UPDATE: Newly-obtained records indicate "the total bill for City services & equipment was $66,253.80 for the last Rock N Roll Half Marathon in 2013. This included costs for Fire/Ems staff, Parks & Recreation staff, Sanitation services, and Traffic/Transportation staff. The police staff/equipment costs totaled in excess of $55,000."

But Competitor Group Inc. (CGI) was the largest company to submit a bid during the city’s recent RFP seeking race organizers to bring a half-marathon back to Downtown St. Pete. And, unlike its previous events in St. Pete, the Competitor Group said in its application that it would not request any public subsidies at the onset of the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. However, it kept the option open in its application:

“CGI would be interested in a partnership with the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Sports Commission should the opportunity arise.”

Unlike CGI’s robust projections ahead of the 2012 and 2013 races that never materialized, the company only projected 7,000 runners for a March 2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll half-marathon in St. Pete. It projected 7,500 and 8,000 runners for the 2018 and 2019 races, respectively.

In 2012, CGI projected 12,000-15,000 runners but only 7,021 completed the St. Pete Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. The following year, only 4,379 runners completed the race.

The race was also plagued by frustrations from runners who were hit with $15 parking fees, a $10 fee to get a ride from the finish line in North Shore Park to the starting line at Tropicana Field more than two miles away, plus another $15 for parking to simply pick up the race packet at Tropicana Field as was required in the days leading up to the race.

There didn’t appear to be any mention of parking costs or any shuttle fees in CGI’s 2017 race proposal, but the company requested a course that starts at Albert Whitted Park, only 1.3 miles from the finish line at North Shore Park. It also told the city it was open to adjusting the course.

The Competitor Group has also hosted more than a dozen successful "Rock 'n' Roll" half marathons and marathons each year since they left St. Pete, and used their national exposure and experience to set their application apart from the local companies seeking to host a race.

CGI requested a race date during the third weekend of March, which would put next year’s race on March 19, likely fewer than two weeks before the IRL’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The company told the city it “would be willing to adjust the race course to accommodate planned construction near the Pier/Bayshore Drive area, assuming we are allowed to return to the area once construction is completed” and it “would also consider evaluating alternate start and expo locations to accommodate Grand Prix activities.


The nipple band-aids are once again coming off!

While the city also voted to award a November half-marathon to Pinellas-based EndorFUN Sports, the process may get delayed by a formal bid protest by the runner-up, Florida Road Races.

The initial protest by Florida Road Races (FRR) cited a number of issues.

You can continue to read about the controversy here.

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1 comment:

  1. Maybe if it was a full marathon, someone would comment?