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?