Red Bull wants to close Ninth Street for chariot race

Thursday, September 8, 2011 | 6:11 p.m. CDT; updated 12:08 a.m. CDT, Friday, September 9, 2011

COLUMBIA — Red Bull wants to close a block of Ninth Street to hold a promotional chariot race and, of course, hand out free samples of its energy drink.

Laura Raymonds and Allie Yeakey, marketing representatives for Red Bull, met with the city's Special Event Committee on Thursday to discuss details about the proposed event, which would close the street from 1 to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 1.

Carol Rhodes, chairwoman of the committee, said the panel will recommend the Columbia City Council approve the closure of a one-block stretch of Ninth Street from Cherry to Locust streets as long as Red Bull submits a completed application with signatures from businesses on the block.

Affected businesses contacted about the street closure have agreed, Raymonds said, and the application should be ready for the council to review by its Sept. 19 meeting.

Raymonds said the chariot race would be alcohol free, but some on the committee raised questions about how Red Bull will ensure participants are not under the influence. Raymond replied that any participants who appear to be under the influence would be forced out of the race.

Kim Dude, director of the MU Wellness Resource Center, said students use Red Bull with alcohol for fun and by itself to stay awake for studying. She believes consuming the beverage with alcohol can be dangerous and that the product is unhealthy by itself due to the amount of caffeine.

Dude said she doesn't plan on trying to stop the event.

“I think that the reality of it is that it is legal and can be consumed in a healthy way, if used with caution and moderation,” Dude said. “It’s all about good decision making.”

Winners of the race can receive Red Bull products including gift cards to local businesses that sell the beverage, Raymonds told the committee.

Red Bull chose Ninth Street, Raymonds said, because of the company's relationship with Quiton’s Bar and Deli.

Mike McClung of Quinton’s Bar and Deli said one reason for the proposed location was the rooftop patio that affords a vantage point for spectators. McClung hopes the event will bring business to Quinton’s Bar and Deli as well as the entire downtown area.

The proposed track would be half of the block between Locust and Cherry streets on Ninth Street. The participants would race toward Locust Street, turn around a hay bale before the Locust and Ninth streets intersection, and race back to where they started, Raymonds said.

Raymonds said the track needs to be short because most people do not have enough stamina to pull a homemade chariot with two people in it more than half a block and back.

The race is open to any three-person team and, if approved, will begin at 5 p.m. Oct. 1.

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Steve Spellman September 9, 2011 | 8:04 a.m.

I'll mention again, as I wrote in a recent guest opinion piece "Business owners should pay to use public streets" (see link below), businesses that apply to have special street closures should pay a market-rate fee to do so.

The City should have a reasonable use policy (kind of like they do already) and rent out the public street when special requests come about; even reducing or waiving the fee for non-profit groups.

In this case, charge Red Bull a reasonable fee - as should Summerfest or Roots n Blues, etc. Then maybe Earth Day or Parades, etc. are free or reduced rate. This introduces fairness and equity, so would be much less contraversial, even if it's Beer or Red Bull being served, or a particular political or religious bent to the activity.

(Report Comment)
M Schott October 24, 2011 | 6:39 p.m.
This comment has been removed.
Leyka Vyre October 24, 2011 | 7:13 p.m.

Polio? Genetic screening and nutrition have been more recent efforts, and while great progress has been made, these are not "cures". I didn't know Danny Thomas started that either. And then Red Bull is not a non profit.

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