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Exact financial impact of Amgen on city hard to calculate, officials say

City not vying for start or finish for next year yet, retired chief says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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While officials can’t say how much money the Amgen Tour of California has brought to Auburn, they agree it should have a long-term benefit on the city. Those involved in planning for May’s event said Auburn has not yet applied to be a future stage start or finish. Recently Councilwoman Bridget Powers and Jan Decker, executive director and chief executive officer of the Placer County Visitors Bureau, made a presentation to the Placer County Economic Development Board regarding the impact of the Tour’s first three stages, including Auburn’s Stage 3 start. “We kind of talked generalities,” Decker said Thursday. “You certainly can define the people that used the hotel at the headquarter hotel here, which is the Holiday Inn. I don’t think there is any way we can sit there and itemize, when you look at the crowd that was in attendance, what kind of money they spent.” Decker said he thinks it’s safe to say that with all the people who came to town, including one couple he talked to from Pennsylvania, money was being spent in the city. “It’s not just the cyclists, but it’s also friends, relatives, support people who help them that all come into the communities,” he said. “You know they have got to be spending money. It’s tough to track, but you know it’s happening.” Andy Heath, director of administrative services for the city of Auburn, said sales tax is received quarterly and can fluctuate for several reasons including the economy, how many businesses are operating at a time and the weather. It would be difficult to calculate how much came in on the day of the Tour in Auburn, Heath said. “There is no foundation built into the reporting system that isolates those numbers for a particular business on a particular day,” he said. Decker said that while the Tour might not provide instant gratification, the city should be proud that it can successfully host this kind of event. Decker said figuring out a way to calculate the impact would be a positive thing. “I would actually love to see us try it to, attempt anyway, calculate … because I think that would be good to know,” he said. Dan Tebbs, owner of Victory Velo Bike Shop in Auburn, said there was a lot of excitement in his store about the race and May was a busier month than last year. “I think the day of was such a weird day with the weather and everything, I didn’t see the immediate increase the day of, but I think leading up and after we had really good sales,” Tebbs said. Lisa Kodl, owner of Auburn Bike Works, said around the time of the Stage 3 start, sales and repairs in the shop went up. Since the event, Bruce Cosgrove, chief executive officer of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, said he’s talked to many people about it and feels that the marketing of the city will be a long-term benefit. “I was convinced before we had Amgen that the real benefit was going to be a long-term return on the investment that we made, and that we had a significant amount of attention given to Auburn through the marketing and promotion that comes with hosting Amgen,” Cosgrove said. Cosgrove said he has noticed another change in the community since the Tour came to town. “The other thing I have noticed … I don’t think it’s my imagination that there are more cyclists in our community, there are more bikes, there are more people riding after 5, early in the morning,” he said. Valerie Harris, Auburn’s retired police chief and member of the Bike Auburn committee that organized the stage start, said Tour officials have had nothing but positive things to say about the city. “We have had a conference call with Amgen and basically been told the entire event for us was very good,” Harris said. “It was their best year reportedly. We don’t have anything going on with Amgen at the moment. At some point in the future they will put out the process for request for proposals and then we will have an opportunity to look at that to consider whether or not we will put in for that again. We are all taking a breather.” Last August the city sent its application package, including a video showcasing the area and several community officials, to AEG for the Stage 3 start. Harris said until requests for proposals come out this year, it would be difficult to say whether or not Auburn would apply to be a start city again or a finish city, if it did in fact apply at all. “At this point I think it would be a start city, and there are so many unknowns until the request for proposal comes out that I don’t think anybody is in a place to confidently state we would go after a finish city.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com