Report: Rock 'N Roll marathon drew half of expected economic impact

6:02 PM, Apr 17, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- 10 News got the first look at a new report detailing just how far below expectations the St. Pete Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon finished.

A 13-page report, just released by Competitor Group--the California-based organizers of the race, shows local officials didn't get nearly what was promised when they agreed to spend $130,000 of taxpayer money to land the event.

Organizers held a press conference in 2011 touting a projected $15 million economic impact.

That number actually turned out to be $7.8 million.

Despite saying 60 percent of the runners would come from out-of-state, the final numbers show only 19 percent were from beyond Florida.

Organizers also claimed 10,000 hotel room nights with the event, but only ended up filling 4,200.

"The investment is yet to show its returns," said David Downing, of Visit St. Pete-Clearwater, which pledged $100,000 to market their race. "This is a multi-year deal.  We have a long view.  We're just at the beginning of this."

The agency has already agreed to spend $100,000 in each of the next two years on marketing.

"This is going to be viewed over the arc of three years, not the first year," Downing said.

The City of St. Pete also spent $30,000 on the race.

Despite the lower than expected numbers, Councilman Wengay Newton said he would vote to spend that money again next year.

"It can only get better.  I think it's money well spent," Newton said.

10 News sent the final economic impact report to several other city council members and Mayor Bill Foster on Tuesday, but all either didn't respond to request for comment, or said they needed more time to review it.

Organizers of the St. Pete Women's Half Marathon said they filled 4,000 hotel rooms and only had about 200 less out-of-state runners compared to last year.

Yet they received just $10,000 in funding.

Downing still hopes Rock 'N Roll can improve.

"You have to take a chance in order to grow something," he explained.

Women's Half Marathon organizers said they plan to ask for a similar amount of money that the Rock 'N Roll race got in order to promote next year's event.

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