After long being rumored dead, the Tour of Missouri took a potentially fatal hit this week, after a last minute push for necessary state tourism funding failed on Thursday.Â A Missouri state tourism oversight commission gave final approval to its annual budget, and the $1 million needed and requested by organizers Medalist Sports to continue the race was not included in the final state budget. This effectively puts an end to hopes for a 2010 Tour of Missouri, unless a major sponsor comes along to save the event, which organizers say is very unlikely.
â€œThis may be a win for the Missouri Tourism Commission and the governor, but a huge loss for the state of Missouri and its citizens,â€ said Mike Weiss, chairman of the Tour of Missouri, Inc., in a statement released following the decison.
Organizers have tried desperately to find the needed funds to plug the race’s $3.5 million budget, and fans even launched a “Save the Tour of Missouri” campaign, but neither were enough to fill the $1.5 million budget gap left by the state’s decision to freeze the tour’s funding.
Governor Jay Nixon’s administration had announced earlier that it would not continue to fund the race, after citing budget shortfalls in 2010. Nixon’s Lieutenant Governor, Pete Kinder, has been a long-time supporter of the race, and posted an open letter to fans urging them to contact Nixon and voice their support.
While this is almost certainly the final nail in the Tour of Missouri’s coffin, a major sponsor could still fill the gap, and would need to commit very soon in the coming weeks. Organizers Medalist Sports have not yet released a statement following the state’s budget decision, but the group has previously said that if the state pulled its funding, the race would not continue.
The 2010 race was scheduled to run August 31 – September 5, and had been designated as a 2.HC race by the UCI.
It is indeed a sad day for cycling fans and supporters around the world. As for those looking to 2011, Weiss included a painfully true declaration in his release today.
â€œUnfortunately, itâ€™s proven once these events are gone, they donâ€™t come back,â€ said Weiss. Sad, but true.