Race pay-off still unknown despite city spending millions

Photo by Chris Richardson
Photo by Chris Richardson

Andrew Crider
Contributing Writer

Although the state and the city of Richmond have already spent $2 million preparing for UCI, the economic impact the UCI bike race will have on the city is still unknown.

The race, which is estimated to have an audience twice the size of the Super Bowl, has a total estimated cost of $20 million. Fundraising from private and corporate donors began in 2011 soon after UCI was announced.

Originally, Richmond set a $21 million goal for fundraising under Governor Bob McDonnell. So far, 60 percent of that goal has been raised.

In an interview with CBS 6, Richmond 2015 Vice President Lee Kallman said the race would bring $160 million in revenue to the state, with 81 percent of the revenue going directly to the city of Richmond.

The Richmond 2015 website breaks down that $160 million, saying “visitor spending can bring a $129.2 million economic impact to the region in 2015.”

Officials from both the city and state have been coordinating with local business owners in advance of the bike race. In June, more than 90 local businesses met with officials to find out more about how the race will affect businesses. However, the impact of the race will be different for each owner.

Alchemy Coffee on West Broad Street won’t be affected by road closures, but the change in customer base can’t be predicted.

“I think it will have an impact,” said Alchecmy owner Eric Spivack. “We will probably have some regulars that are not VCU-based that will be intimidated from coming down here.” 

Spivack said he hopes the university’s closing will bring more students into his shop.

“We will have a lot of kids at VCU who won’t have class who will be looking for something to do and choose to hang out here, and we will have some people coming from out of town who are looking for places to get coffee,” Spivack said.

Other businesses that rely heavily on VCU students are concerned they will make little profit during the week of the race. Famous Gyro, a food stand that operates on campus during the week, will be forced to close due to the race. 

“We can’t go anywhere else because all the streets are going to be closed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” said  Khalil Ahmad, Famous Gyro owner.

Other shop owners will also be affected by the road closures. Andrew Clarke, owner of 821 Cafe on Cary Street, said he is doesn’t know how the bike race will affect his business.

“I think it’s a crapshoot at this point. We are going to take it as it comes. Thankfully we’re in a good location,” Clarke said.

UCI won’t just affect the operations on shop location; it will also change the dynamic for the business as it works to make and receive deliveries.

“The biggest effect it’s going to have on us is being able to deliver food to people and get our product and stuff in,” Clarke said. “We are having a lot of our vendors bring stuff in at 3 in the morning as opposed to 8 in the morning. Getting product here, getting the staff here – that’s going to be the biggest issue.”

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