TODAY'S QUESTION: Should Missouri continue to fund Tour of Missouri?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 2:23 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 11, 2010

COLUMBIA — The future of Tour of Missouri, which is scheduled to start Aug. 31, is in doubt because of uncertainty about state funding.

State lawmakers budgeted $1 million for the Division of Tourism to help fund the 2010 race, $500,000 less than what was awarded for the 2009 race. But Marci Bennett, chairwoman of the Tourism Commission, said the tourism division’s budget has been cut from $20.5 million to $13.5 million and the $1 million could be better spent on the state’s cooperative marketing program, which benefits 40 Missouri communities.

This isn’t the first time the bike race experienced funding troubles.

In 2009, Gov. Jay Nixon temporarily froze the $1.5 million tourism allocation for the race before ultimately allowing the funds to be used. After last year’s race, several Democratic leaders sent a letter to Nixon urging him to continue state funding.

Also, the bike race has struggled to find a title sponsor to attach its name to the race.

Still, the race has a chance to continue if enough private money is raised.

Mike Weiss, chairman of the Tour of Missouri board, thinks raising public pressure among supporters can save the race.

"This event was 'canceled' last summer, and there was a reversal," Weiss said.

Last year’s race was watched by about a half-million people, and they spent more than $30 million, according to an economic analysis paid for by the state.

Do you think the state should continue to fund Tour of Missouri?

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victoria turner May 11, 2010 | 11:28 a.m.

A very strong yes on that subject to support the Tour of Missouri. First of all the people have spoken and the money was allocated for TOM. I guess this was a ploy in which the Govenor could leave it in the hands of Ms. Danner to be the bad guy and pull the funds.
The economics of the Tour makes so much sense. I just do not get it at all. Missouri is known to be exremely conservative and almost backward fically and on social issues. I think to the point of what is not good for us to grow and prosper as a state and people. This is a great example of this mind thought and political pull. I like to see what return on the Million Ms. Danner will get in using this for marketing. I think not much compared to what the Tour can bring to Missouri just in free advertising with the popularity of International bike competition events.
The people want the the Tour of Missouri the towns praise and state what a economic boom it gives Missouri. It is free to the public, no 100 tickets and taking a small loan to take your family to the event. It promotes healthly lifestyles. It is accessable to every person who wants to meet thier sports icon. What other sport can you take your children to see sports icons and actually meet them before they race. Thier famed and in major competitions but standing before your children signing an autograph.
In closing i know who i will not be voting for in the next Govenors race if this race dies off. Bye bye Mr. Nixon!!

(Report Comment)
Jeff Schreiner May 11, 2010 | 12:58 p.m.

Absolutely the State should fund the tour. The House and Senate have already shown support for this race by reversing the Governor's initial attempt to re-allocate tour funding.

There are hundreds of thousand's of fans that follow this being one of them. The past 3 years I've taken my week's vacation from work to follow the Tour. I've followed this race 3 out of the 6 stages every year over the past 3 years....if there is no Tour this year I will be spending my money elsewhere. I may even go to the point of looking for another State to live in...I hear AZ is nice and is pro cycling...unlike another state I know.

I can't see any reason other than pure politics (AKA someone bribing Nixon to spend the money elsewhere)

As far as I'm concerned this is Nixon's first and last term....Anyone for voting Lt. Gov. Kinder into Nixon's soon to be vacated position say I.

(Report Comment)
Sara Marq May 11, 2010 | 6:01 p.m.

Yes, the Division of Tourism should continue to fund The Tour of Missouri.
According to Ms. Katie Danner this morning on KCUR "the goal of the Division of Tourism is to attract visitors to our State".
I would like to hear how the state cooperative marketing program will bring National and International visitors to the State of Missouri. If it is to market the Worlds Largest Pecan or the Worlds Largest Rocking Chair, I'm not sure those attractions would draw people from Belgium, France, or in my case Alabama, but I know the Tour of Missouri attracts these people.
Of the 40 communities the cooperative marketing program will affect; how many of those communites has the Tour of Missouir affected? What are the Mayor's of the Start/Finish towns saying? What are the elected officials of the small rural communities the tour has gone through saying?
It's sad that the elected officials of Missouri do not see the econmomic impact this event has had on their state in the last three years; I assure you there is another state out there that is forward thinking who will be glad to gobble up the $30M revenue.

(Report Comment)
Dana Reed May 12, 2010 | 10:15 a.m.

Yes we should continue to fund the tour. It brings thousands of dollars to each and every stop. These are hard times,and I think all of these communities could use the income. The state definetly needs the tax dollars!

(Report Comment)
Chris Cleeland May 12, 2010 | 10:19 a.m.

Unequivocally, yes, for all the reasons already cited.

Moreover, the legislature should subpoena Ms. Danner before the budget committee and audit the ROI numbers on all the other schemes in which the Division of Tourism invests our tax dollars. If she can decry the ToM's economic impact study with no basis (on KCUR yesterday she said that the numbers were incorrect but, when asked, couldn't say what the correct numbers were), then she should need to prove all the numbers for her pet projects.

(Report Comment)
Jamie Scott May 12, 2010 | 10:34 a.m.

Yes! The state should continue to fund the Tour of Missouri. The House and Senate both approved funding to be continued. They have listened to the people of Missouri and believe it should continue. The governor has placed the final vote to Ms. Danner rather than becoming the bad guy. Ms. Danner is not an elected official by the people but appointed by the governor and therefore will do what the governor wants and that is to ax the Tour of Missouri. Thanks for listening to the people Mr. governor. This comes from someone who voted for him last time but will not in the future. The Tour of Missouri is a race for all Missourians and other cycling fans all over the world. It would be a slap in the face to all fans and to all those who vote for the right to be heard!

(Report Comment)
Randy Schroer May 12, 2010 | 10:38 a.m.

I suggest looking at the Division of Tourism’s 2009 annual report . On page 6 the report states that the state of Missouri receives $2.54 in state tax revenues from every dollar invested in the Division of Tourism’s budget. For every $1.00 the state invests in marketing tourism, $46.81 is returned in visitor expenditures. As long as the state reports positive returns on the investment, how can they complain they lost money on the Tour of Missouri?

The General Assembly made a specific appropriation in the amount of $1 million for the Tour of Missouri in the recently submitted budget. Governor Nixon seems content to leave that funding in the Division of Tourism’s budget PROVIDED the Division of Tourism does not use it for the Tour of Missouri. Katie Steele Danner, director of the Division of Tourism, and Marci Bennett, chairman of the Tourism Commission, have both publicly stated that the Division of Tourism has no obligation to honor the General Assembly’s specific appropriation and has no intention of doing so. Instead, they have stated it will be used for “other Tourism priorities”.

If this were truly a budget issue, the $1 million appropriation for the Tour of Missouri would be cut if the Division and the governor have no intention of supporting the race. As long as the money remains in the Division’s coffers, this is purely a matter of politics hiding behind the skirts of the budget issue.

So, to answer the question, I offer a resounding YES!

(Report Comment)
Gail Wesselschmidt May 12, 2010 | 10:56 a.m.

Yes!!!!! Yes to The Tour of Missouri!!! What ticks me off is the governor & the director of tourism is refusing to meet with anybody related to the Tour of Missouri. They are trying to sweep the whole issue under the carpet. From the news report they ran on KC channel 41 with Chris Hernandez somebody (not me)told him that the Tour may not need the whole amount but need enough to show state support to keep the sponsers already lined up.
But since Nixon & Danner are refusing to even meet they won't know anything about that (which proves they don't know anything at all).

One other thing I wish was more clarified with the press is that some news organizations I spoke with on the phone think this has to do with school budget cuts and them getting that money. I wish somebody would over clarify that when they report anything about this mess. In no way shape or form is any budgeted money from the tourism department going to a school. School funds only have to do with the education budget. I spoke with two news channels yesterday that the news tips people thought they knew what they were talking about.

I don't get why the governor is being so stupid. By the way last nights brief interview can be seen on then search tour of MO and it is the one about upset fans. The governor was totally thrown off about Tour questions and stammers a lot.

(Report Comment)
BRANDON LEPAGE May 12, 2010 | 11:08 a.m.

Without a doubt, the State should help fund the Tour. The house and senate have already approved the funds, but it's all about politics. Gov. Nixon and Danner need to look past the petty differences and look at the benefits to the state. We keep hearing about how the state is doing budget cuts because of lack of revenue, but they want to cut a very large source of revenue for the state (taxes) as well as for local businesses.

(Report Comment)
Cindy Lowe May 12, 2010 | 11:17 a.m.

My husband & I live in the suburbs of Chicago and are looking forward to spending our hard earned $$ at the TOM once again this year.

We went to St. Louis for Stage 7 in 2008 and Kansas City for Stage 7 in 2009. Both trips were wonderful experiences, but I can tell you that neither of those trips to your fine state would have happened without the TOM.

We are anxiously planning to attend again this year and sincerely hope you will again host this World Class cycling event.

If you host it we will come...

Cindy Lowe
Batavia, IL

(Report Comment)
john wickstrom May 12, 2010 | 11:23 a.m.

Yes! Economic studies have shown a 4 to 1 return on investment for the state. The $1 million expenditure turns into $4 million in revenue directly to the state. Certainly the tourism department, if they took off their political blinders, can see this as well.
The Tour of Missouri is carried live by NBC Universal, for up to 6 hours a day, that's 42 hours, plus replays, of television coverage. And unlike the MLB All-Star game (where Tourism makes a large investment), where the majority of the 6 hours of coverage is focused on action in the stadium, the coverage of the Tour by its very nature, showcases the state. That coverage is carried worldwide. Viewers see parts of the state that they normally don't see, unless there is a tornado, flood, or crime.
The Tourism Board in the State of California is faced with the same decision and has always seen the value of the contribution, in addition they sponsor the "King of the Mountains" jersey. So if they can see the benefit and effect on the economy in California, why can't the Tourism Department in Missouri. The simple answer, the political blinders, simply a desire to punish the other party. It doesn't make sense in Washington D.C. and it doesn't make sense in Missouri. Do the right thing and support the Tour of Missouri, bring the windfall to the little towns along the route that can use an economic boost!

(Report Comment)
Martha Lindsay May 12, 2010 | 11:48 a.m.

A hearty Yes, MO should continue to fund the tour. My husband and I follow the tour every year and we spend money for hotels, food and gas. I know that we are from the only ones that do so. I'd never been to the wine region in MO before the tour took me there, so I've gotten to see more and go back again to those same places after the tour.

(Report Comment)
Kathy Erins May 12, 2010 | 12:04 p.m.

Save the Tour of Missouri! My husband & I don't ride but we love to watch cycling on TV and especially in person. We love the Tour of Missouri. We take our dogs, sit along the side of the road for hours waiting on the race to ride by for 1 minute. Then we usually go into the town where they finish to see the end. We spend money & see parts of Missouri we never would see without the ToM. Sometimes we go to the beginning of a days event. Once again we spend money & visit places we never would see without the Tour. It brings good notoriety to Missouri from all over the world. It's shown on International TV. It is a money maker for Missouri....what else could help the entire State of Missouri more than the ToM? Don't cancel the Tour! The State needs the revenue and the publicity.

(Report Comment)
Greg Polk May 12, 2010 | 12:48 p.m.

The problem with the Tour of Missouri is...

It creates sales tax revenue for Missouri without much help from all the committees, sub-committees and/or lawmakers.

It does a far better job promoting our fine state than anything the MO. Dept. of Tourism could dream-up on their finest day.

The free worldwide television and internet coverage show-casing our state would possibly leave a favorable impression upon the world and heaven forbid, entice them to visit Missouri to see what they've been missing.

Local businesses would have to buy more inventory, stock more shelves, open their businesses a few more hours, and be prepared for more revenue while the race visits their town. That's a lot of work, none of which we want.

State politicians would have to concede that the private sector and citizen's of Missouri are capable of doing great things w/o lining the pockets of politicians...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 12, 2010 | 1:09 p.m.

It seems the Tour has been well received and has serious public support.

So, could it be permanently put on private funding? Sponsors? Sources of revenue?

This is at least the second time this spring that folks have been bemoaning state cuts to some popular program. If the state (or federal government) doesn't fund a program then it stands to reason that the state (or federal government) can't cut off or reduce that program's funding.

"He who pays the piper calls the tune." The Tour might be better off with absolutely no ties to the legislature.

(Report Comment)
Rick Bell May 12, 2010 | 2:24 p.m.

Yes, absolutely Missouri should fund the Tour, and it would be a completely senseless decision if the state didn't. This matter will certainly affect my vote when the time comes to choose a new governor.

My father alone visited from Arkansas, spent money on two meals each day, bought merchandise, clothing, photo services/supplies, transportation, spent money on cycling gear here from the simple promotion of cycling the race naturally gives, and got to experience our beautiful countryside that was essentially designed for races of this kind.

That was just one person, my dad from Arkansas. Now imagine what all my Austrian friends did when they traveled here to see the race last year.

Any claims that it is not a good investment are certainly bogus, and they obviously are motivated by other political reasons.

(Report Comment)
Erin Krewet May 12, 2010 | 2:27 p.m.

Yes, the state should continue to contribute to the Tour. The $1 million investment from the department of tourism is a great way to spend tourism dollars. This is a great marketing investment for the state with a clear return on investment. Over the last several years, we have followed the tour throughout the state and visited many small towns we had never been to. We also spent money in these towns and met people who had never been to Missouri before but were planning to come back for more tours. I can't think of a better way to invest tourism dollars than supporting an event that brings Missouri national and global attention.

(Report Comment)
Trent Canupp May 12, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

Yes! This event has been one of the best things to happen to our state. It has put us on the world stage like nothing has before.
I sent an e-mail to the Gov. Nixons office and of course got the computer generated response. The first sentence says that he considers it a privilege to serve the people of Missouri. Well Jay, the people have spoken. Carry out the will of the people, our elected officials have spoken. Now it's time for you and the Tourism Board to allocate the funds for the tour!
Hopefully this will be the last year that the tour has to depend on the state for funding.

(Report Comment)
Roberta Judson May 12, 2010 | 7:40 p.m.

I definitely think Missouri should support the 2010 Tour and future ones, too! The Tour brings in tourism dollars to cities/communities of all sizes across the entire state, it provides a TON of free press across the nation and around the world. It absolutely astounds me Gov. Nixon and the Dept of Tourism aren't doing everything they can to keep the Tour in Missouri.

(Report Comment)
Matt Wilkinson May 18, 2010 | 12:37 p.m.

Of course the State should support this amazing international event.

I called governor’s office today to give them my opinion on the lack of Governor support for the ToM.

Nixon’s recent comments to KCUR – Kansas City radio station:-

“I think … it’s something that comes and goes. The real things that turn dollars in tourism are things that stay. We’re excited about the 175th anniversary of Mark Twain, the 150th anniversary of the Pony Express, the 50th anniversary of Silver Dollar City. Those are things that are going to be there, not just passing by at 29 mph and being there 24 seconds.”

The Pony Express lasted 18 months and lost a shed load of money. Sure the guys that rode horses were tough and deserve some recognition but to equate that with a modern international sporting event like the ToM is simply asinine. Do we want to be seen as some bunch of hillbilly’s looking backwards and inwards or do we want to be on the world stage?

Nixon’s attitude is simply sickening and I strongly suspect is rooted in politics because Kinder was instrumental in getting the ToM started. Nixon is sounding like a true hick. I voted for him - I'm beginning to regret that.

(Report Comment)

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