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Turlock seeks slot on Amgen Tour

POSTED August 14, 2012 9:26 p.m.

Just over two weeks ago, Turlock Chamber of Commerce CEO Sharon Silva received some unexpected news – The Amgen Tour of California, one of the world’s premier cycling races, had requested that Turlock apply to host the start or end of a race leg.

The application was incredibly lengthy. The challenges posed by the document – from raising money to securing volunteers – seemed impossible.

Making matters worse, the application had to be submitted in just two-and-a-half weeks.

“It kind of frightened me,” Silva said.

The opportunity – the first time Turlock was asked to submit an application –  was too good to pass up, though. Participating in the Tour of California would mean worldwide exposure for Turlock, as well as significant tax revenues from tens of thousands of visitors.

The Turlock Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Turlock, and numerous public and private groups joined together to answer hard questions and complete the application. Letters of support were drafted by elected officials, business leaders, and noted educators.

A draft application came together faster than expected, thanks to the “unbelievable” community support. A Tour of California employee reviewed that draft, coming away “totally impressed,” with only minor changes suggested.

“I can’t believe it, but it’s ready to go,” Silva said.

Though the application is complete, Turlock’s place in the Tour isn’t guaranteed.

Turlock will compete against 100 cities, including former host cities Modesto and Sonora, to host a leg of the eight-day race. Tour organizers will pick finalist cities in September, with the finished route announced in November.

Under the proposal, Turlock would be responsible for managing public safety and road closures. The Chamber and CVB would contract with the Tour of California to operate the race, and would be responsible for all fundraising.

As much as $100,000 is needed to host a leg of the race. But Silva said the Chamber of Commerce already has commitments for $50,000 in donations. And that’s without engaging in any sort of outreach campaign to solicit donations.

“When you're halfway there and you haven't even made it public, that's a big deal,” said Turlock Councilwoman Mary Jackson, prior to a council vote to support the application.

From a financial standpoint, those donations could translate into major revenue for Turlock and its businesses. The event is expected to generate a return on investment of 3:1 if Turlock is selected as a starting point, or 6:1 if Turlock is a finishing point.

But perhaps even more important for Turlock would be the exposure. If selected, Turlock will be broadcast live on NBC or NBC Sports Network, worldwide through more than 200 countries.

“We’re very excited about this,” Turlock Mayor John Lazar said.

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