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City wants Tour of California back

Headline of application packet ‘Auburn…ready to race again,’ chamber CEO says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Local officials hope an event that took the city of Auburn by storm in May will be coming back for another round next year. The Bike Auburn local organizing committee is preparing to send out an application to once again be a stage start city for the Amgen Tour of California. Councilman Keith Nesbitt said the city is prepared for another race after the May 17 Stage 3 Start, which began in Downtown Auburn. “Now the plan and the road map is really in place for us,” Nesbitt said. “There won’t be many surprises, so we can take the things we wanted to change about last year, fine tune them a little bit.” Bruce Cosgrove, chief executive officer for the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, said the application package, which includes a document outlining how the city would meet the race requirements as well as a video with footage from May’s race, has to be sent out by Thursday to meet the application deadline. “It’s technical in many ways, but at the same time it’s to grab their attention and to market Auburn, to convince them that choosing Auburn once again for 2012 would be a smart move,” Cosgrove said. “We have got a lot of graphics, and photographs and a lot of promotional information about this community and its people (in the application).” Cosgrove said Bike Auburn members found out about 30 days ago the application process was open, and all original members of the committee have said they are on board again if the race comes back to Auburn. Cosgrove said there is no fee to apply, and committee members estimate the cost of putting on the stage start ranges from $33,000 to $35,000. Other funds gathered during the process are used to promote the event and the city, Cosgrove said. “That is really the whole premise of our involvement, is to promote Auburn and establish Auburn as a destination point, to encourage more people to recreate in this area,” he said. “And cycling is already a huge part of our region, and it’s a growing market.” Cosgrove said slightly more than $20,000 is left over from last year’s fundraising, and the money will be used on the Tour if it comes through again. “It’s great to have the funding going into 2012, because last year we started from scratch, zero, and every dollar had to be generated,” he said. Monday night the Auburn City Council voted unanimously to direct staff to send a letter to race officials to show its support of the Tour returning to Auburn in 2012. At the meeting Councilman Mike Holmes asked why Auburn was not trying to be a finish city, which he felt would draw more people. Nesbitt said being a finish city would require having 400 open hotel rooms, and the city would have to work out a plan with surrounding towns to do that, so being a start city makes more sense at this time. “Right now we want to build on last year’s success, and we will see what happens in the future,” Nesbitt said. Cosgrove said Auburn Police Chief John Ruffcorn is still holding the position of Bike Auburn chairman for now, and Cosgrove is hopeful Ruffcorn will be able to stay on as chairman if the city does indeed host another stage start. Ruffcorn was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Lisa Kodl, owner of Auburn Bike Works, said she is happy about the application. “I think it’s awesome,” Kodl said. “I think that the weather should be much nicer. That couldn’t happen two years in a row. And I think that it brings a lot of enthusiasm, and it brings Auburn a lot of publicity as a city to bring people from outside of Auburn, whether they are cyclists or not.” Kodl said she wants to see Auburn continue to grow as a day destination spot, and thinks having the race back in the city will help do that. “I think it’s very exciting, and I hope we get it,” she said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com