With just over six weeks until Louisville, Kentucky is scheduled to host the 2013 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships, USA Cycling and the Louisville Sports Commission have had to step in and take over running the event after a reported $250,000 sponsorship shortfall threatened the very existence of the race, USA Cycling announced today.
USA Cycling installed its own race promoter, Micah Rice, the VP of National Events, to take over running the operations from Louisville 2013's Joan Hanscom and Bruce Fina, but Rice told Cyclingnews that he expects the current staff to remain involved.
"We are taking a hard look at everything right now, and we are in the process of figuring out all the contract pieces," Rice said, "but we don't expect USA Cycling to waltz in and for Bruce and Joan to walk away. We are eight [sic] weeks out, and it would be impossible to run the event without their knowledge."
Rice will oversee the flurry of activity which will take place over the next month and a half before the UCI World Championships are scheduled to take place. Rice said that while course itself is set, there is still plenty of work to be done on the logistics surrounding the event.
"In terms of course, it's all buttoned down. I was at the USGP test event [in November] and watched all of it go down. The course is going to be fantastic. It's obviously the other pieces surrounding it: Some things are done, but I will say it's a bit alarming as to what hasn't been done. We're scrambling hard to get those pieces together. I've been on the phone a lot with the Louisville Sports Commission and Joan to pull all the pieces together.
"I'm not worried, the race is going to happen, but it is going to take 100 per cent effort to make sure we're ready to go."
The main difficulties came about due to the failure of Exergy Development Group to meet its contractual payment schedule and financial obligations to the race. Despite repeated promises by Exergy's CEO James Carkulis to pay up on his sponsorship pledges, Louisville 2013 finally ran out of time waiting for Exergy to fulfill its obligations last month, leading to the take-over by USA Cycling.
While the race has been able to make up for some of the promised Exergy funds, getting donations from Louisville community leaders such as John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s International, Inc., David A. Jones, Sr., co-founder of Humana, and Sam Swope, founder of Sam Swope Auto Group, Rice admits there is still a six-figure shortfall that USA Cycling may end up having to cover.
"We've sold 2,500 tickets, but we'd like to double that at least. We are also hoping to get a few more sponsors, and we are hoping that the industry will help by purchasing VIP areas that are still available."
Whatever difficulties the race may be experiencing now, Rice is confident that come February 2, the first UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship race will go off without a hitch, and he will ensure that the images from the race will be beamed throughout the world via the 11 cameras they plan to have placed on course. However, what kind of coverage people in the USA will be able to access is yet to be determined.
"We've yet to determine what form our coverage will take in the US," Rice said, adding that it is likely that a live internet stream will be available at the very least.
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