The 2014 World Championships in Ponferrada have left the small Spanish city facing a hefty debt after the event resoundingly failed to return a profit, local media reported this week. The most conservative estimates now put losses at 2.7 million euros with a worst-case scenario of up to nine million euros.
Prior to the 2014 World's the city, situated in a remote corner of north-west Spain, had had its fair share of financial headaches getting the World's off the ground. The total estimated cost for the eight-day event was 11 million euros, nearly half of which - five million euros - was due to be paid to the UCI.
Whilst the regional government of Castille and León stepping in as garantor of the payment to the UCI effectively put the event back on track, high percentage tax breaks for sponsors did not have the desired effect. Only seven sponsors were finally found, despite nearly 300 potential backers being contacted. In total, recently published figures show that in net terms, just 1.4 million euros worth of sponsorship was secured.
With the biggest major city, León, a good 75 minutes drive way, the number of fans present was lower than expected. It's been reported in Spanish sports daily AS that ticket sales to the stands and best vantages points for the entire event, for example, came to a meagre 31,919.5 euros for the entire week's racing. The travel agency responsible for the Worlds made so little money that 40 percent of its original sponsorship investment of 500,000 euros had to be returned. A minature craft fair, specially laid on next to the finish, made a scant profit of 1,836 euros. AS also reports that one tiny income stream was - bizarrely enough - thanks to "anti-doping," which for unspecified reasons managed to bring in 126 euros.
With provisional figures for losses already standing at 2.7 million euros, although a full breakdown will not be available until next autumn. Either way, the five million euros due to the UCI, as well as another million euros were apparently spent on additional roadworks for the Worlds have apparently yet to be included. Should the worst-case losses be confirmed, the total would be roughly 20 percent of the city's entire annual town hall budget.
The financial issues did not in any way affect the Worlds itself, which were run very smoothly. For visitors and media, there were no major logistical issues apart from a comparative lack of hotels in the immediate area, making a fairly long daily drive to and from events all but obligatory for many. Mid-way through the racing, the UCI gave the Ponferrada World's a full vote of approval for its organisation.