Race organizers await television contract from sport governing body
Rumors that the inaugural 2013 Elite Cyclo-cross World Championships set to take place in Louisville, Kentucky, is under financial and organizational strain were put to rest by event promoter Bruce Fina who stated that the event has neither been audited or reported by the International Cycling Union (UCI). Fina confirmed that the organization has several financial backers lined up however, contracts are pending until the UCI announces its television agreements.
"This is news to Louisville 2013," Fina told Cyclingnews. "I find it hard to imagine that the UCI would tell something like this to the press without informing us first. As far as our financial status goes, I am not sure who is speaking here, but we have not been audited or reported our finances to the UCI or any other organization so I have no idea where they get it from."
According to the Belgian newspaper, Gazet van Antwerpen, the organization has no commercial sponsors lined up indicating financial difficulty. However, Fina assured that the organization has several sponsors lined up, both endemic and non-endemic and many of those sponsors are waiting to sign contractual agreements, until the UCI has a television contract in place for the US market.
"As we all know not only is the Worlds in the US unprecedented, but the Cyclocross World Championship has never before been shown on television in the US," Fina said. "The UCI holds all television broadcast rights and, although we have been involved in some conversations and even meetings with the UCI and some television channels, as of yet we have not been informed by the UCI about which channel will broadcast the races live on television in the USA. Until we have that information it is very difficult to put a valuation on sponsorship. Due to the nature of television in the US and advertising spots that make up a program, it is crucial to have very exact information about the television programing for our sophisticated sponsors."
"The UCI has historically worked with European television networks in which there are no ads and thus all valuation is done only on course signage and on site spectators," he added. "In the US market it is the polar opposite where bigger sponsors are truly only interested in television. This lack of clarity may be why historically only the independently organized races such as the Grand Tours and some Classics have been televised."
Fina noted that his organization is waiting for the UCI to announce a television contract for the 2013 world championships, along with its package details and channel. In addition, he is looking for confirmation that all events including Elites, Under 23 and Junior categories will be involved in the live televised agreement. He noted that the organization's agreement included specified live television feeds for all licensees of the UCI.
"It would be a shame if the UCI cannot negotiate to have it on a reasonably successful US channel that goes into the majority of US households," Fina said. "We would prefer that it is not on pay-per-view or just highlights of the races at midnight on an obscure cable channel, but that is completely in the control of the UCI."
Gazet van Antwerpen also reported that Belgium's Telenet-Fidea teammates Bart Wellens and Rob Peeters expressed disappointed that the course was not set up to test ride during their brief visit to the event site at the Eva Bandman Park in Louisville. However, Fina explained the impossibility of setting up the cyclo-cross circuit in a public park two years in advance of the event date. He did note that there will be several cyclo-cross events held on that site before the Elite world's takes place including the Exergy Cyclo-cross US Gran Prix Derby City Cup this November along with the 2012 and 2013 UCI Masters Cyclo-cross World Championships.
"As far as the course goes, work is proceeding at Eva Bandman Park," Fina said. "As many of you know the park was reworked last year by the Metro Parks and it has been a season to let the grass grow in and firm up. We will be organizing at least three big events on the course there before Worlds 2013 so I see no issue with the course at all."
"I think the Belgians might have been disappointed that there were no stakes in the ground when they visited town," he said. "But the park is meant to be multi-purpose so there was really no need to set up a course for a visit between races. That said they were very pleased with the USGP course in Madison [Planet Bike Cup] and felt comfortable that we can make a great ‘cross course for Worlds with the features available in Louisville."