Report says UCI economic impact fell short

Mama's Kitchen restaurant employees await customers during a slow day during the UCI races. Photo by Julie Tripp
Mama's Kitchen restaurant employees  await  customers during a slow day during the UCI races. Photo by Julie Tripp
Mama’s Kitchen restaurant employees await customers during a slow day during the UCI races. Photo by Julie Tripp

The UCI Road World Championships hosted by Richmond 2015 had a $161.5 million impact on the city, according to an economic report released Dec. 15.

The report, which was conducted by research group Chmura Economics & Analytics, states the city received $2.9 million in tax revenue from $138.4 million in total visitor spending. The Richmond-based research group also said the cycling tournament attracted nearly 640,000 spectators — exceeding initial estimates.

Richmond 2015 predicted 450,000 spectators would attend the September races for at least one day and total visitor spending would total around $192 million. While the group’s visitor estimate was exceeded by almost 200,000 spectators, the spending prediction fell short by nearly $60 million.

The report uses the term “impact” to discuss cost and revenue — including tax revenue from private consumer spending and cost from government spending. The report does not indicate what profit the race facilitated for the city, but includes the $23 million spent by city-contracted organizers in the $161.5 million impact figure.

VCU also shouldered a share of the race’s impact. While the decrease in student population may have hurt local businesses, VCU spent around $130,000 in overtime pay for its employers.

Richard Bunce, VCU’s interim vice president for finance and budget, said the extra spending was to “maintain a safe physical environment in support of the university’s mission.”

Total expenditure on overtime pay for police officers increased by 26 percent during the race. Public Information Officer for the VCU PD, Corey Byers, said the overtime hours were scheduled based on information given to the university by Richmond 2015 organizers.

Byers said that some of the tasks the VCU PD aided with included traffic direction by officers and officers stationed along the race route to maintain the safety and integrity of the courses.

Although it’s now three months after the conclusion of the races, speculation about the economic impact of the eight-day-long races began before the official report.

VCU economics professor Edward Millner told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in November he believed the race failed to meet economic expectations, saying the race “was not a financial home run for the city of Richmond.”

The report also exhibited underwhelming activity for the city’s hotels and restaurants despite Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones (D) predicting fans from across the state would occupy the area’s hotels.

“I would imagine that hotels will be used from as far away as Fredericksburg to the North, and Williamsburg to the east,” Mayor Jones told CBS 6 in 2011.

According to data gathered by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, hotel occupancy in Richmond actually decreased by 7.1 percent and restaurant sales decreased by 1 percent during the races.

Richmond 2015 organizers believe the hospitality industry’s poor performance was a result of hotels increasing their prices for the bike race.

Part of why you see a dip in Richmond is because a lot of people were turned off by some of the tactics,” said Tim Miller, chief operating officer of Richmond 2015, in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

CBS 6 reported the average prices for a hotel room dropped before the start of the races in response to the high numbers of unbooked rooms. CBS 6 also reported decreased parking fees due to low turnout during the early days of the race.

Staff Writer, Andrew Crider

Andrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook

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