Close to 1 million people are expected to turn out for this week’s USA Pro Challenge, a seven-stage bicycle race beginning in Aspen and rolling through the mountains to Denver.
For the first time in its three-year history, Breckenridge will host a stage start and a stage finish, which will keep tourists in town for an extra day than in the past.
Although local businesses can expect a bump on tourist traffic this week, Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, director of communications for the town of Breckenridge, said officials have always been attracted to hosting the Pro Challenge for its potential long-term economic benefits.
“We look at it more as a long-term benefit to promote Breckenridge as a hub for road and mountain biking,” Dykstra-DiLallo said. “It fits with our message that Breckenridge is a bike haven.”
Now in its third year, the USA Pro Challenge has made a stop in Breckenridge every year attracting tourists and injecting funds into the local economy. Although town officials have not tracked economic data since 2011 when the race kicked off, Dykstra-DiLallo said business owners, particularly restaurateurs and hoteliers, can expect a bump in business when the race rolls through town.
Following the 2011 race, the town of Breckenridge issued a survey to local business owners to determine the economic impacts and to gauge whether or not the community would want to host the race again in the future.
According to the results of that survey, the average increase in lodging sales was 63 percent. Restaurants experienced a 39 percent increase in sales and retail business spiked by more than 75 percent.
“They (business owners) all said overwhelmingly that they wanted the race to come back,” Dykstra-DiLallo said. “We bid for a Saturday finish last year and thought we hit a grand slam getting a start and a finish this year.”
Like Dykstra-DiLallo, Marty Ferris, finance director for Summit County, said the county also looks at the race for its potential long-term economic benefits.
“People all over the world are going to be watching this race, so the overall exposure for county is great,” Ferris said. “I think people still think about us as a winter destination and this is a wonderful opportunity to showcase we’re also a nice place to visit in the summer.”
To capitalize off of the international exposure, Breckenridge officials ask fans to come out Tuesday and Wednesday decked out in orange t-shirts.
In an effort to capitalize off of the event as much as possible, the town of Breckenridge rented and already set up a Jumbotron at the Riverwalk Center Lawn to broadcast live coverage of the race for the entire week.
“They (business owners) all said overwhelmingly that they wanted the race to come back. We bid for a Saturday finish last year and thought we hit a grand slam getting a start and a finish this year.”
Director of communications for town of Breckenridge