County likely to donate to 2015 cycling event

Henrico County officials are proposing that the county contribute direct and indirect funding and support totaling no more than $1.4 million to Richmond 2015, the organization that will host the nine-day UCI World Road Cycling Championships in the Greater Richmond region in three years.

That's the same amount requested of the county by Richmond 2015 officials in September, although they sought the total amount in cash donations spread evenly over the next three years.

Instead, County Manager Virgil Hazelett has proposed a $300,000 cash donation in 2015 only and the application of other associated costs, such as security, traffic control and overtime police pay, toward the $1.4 million total. Henrico's share of contributions made to Richmond 2015 by the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau and Greater Richmond Convention Center also would be included in that amount.

Only one event – a time trial for men and women on the first day – is proposed to occur in Henrico. Organizers originally wanted to begin the 17-mile event at Short Pump Town Center and conclude it in Richmond, but Henrico officials determined that such a route would require that 62 intersections be closed for more than 10 hours.

That inconvenience – and the associated cost of overtime pay for police officers along the route – wouldn't make sense for the county, Hazelett said. So, county officials are working with Richmond 2015 to identify another route that is a better fit, he said.

Henrico Director of Management and Budget Brandon Hinton told the Board of Supervisors during a work session Oct. 23 that the county could not justify a cash contribution of $1.4 million when its anticipated direct tax benefit would be just $1.063 million, according to an estimate provided by Richmond 2015.

And, Hinton and Hazelett told the board, that estimate is aggressive because it includes anticipated hotel tax revenue that county officials believe is impossible to achieve.

"Clearly, the event will have a positive impact on the Richmond region," Hinton said. "[But] we don't want to pay out more than we think we're going to get in return."

The nine-day event will feature cyclists from more than 70 countries and an anticipated crowd of about 450,000.
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