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Promoter's Lament -- from Hamilton world's site

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Old July 11th 03, 05:31 PM
Bob Schwartz
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Default Promoter's Lament -- from Hamilton world's site

Eric Hollenbeck wrote:
Bob Schwartz wrote in message ...
Never organized a race, have you?

Never hit on someone for sponsorship money for a race, have you?

Never even been within 50 kilometers of a race organization meeting,
have you?

Never compiled a race budget, have you?

Never worked at a registration table, have you?

I have done all these things... More than once.

So you have, my agologies.

Now that we have gotten the pleasantries out of the way, what is soooo
impossible about what I suggest? I'll be the first to admit it sounds
utopian but I've seen it work and the main reason it hasn't here is
that most grass roots race promoters (and local racing associations)
who make an effort to streamline and optimize race organization
eventually want a piece of the pie. That works fine for "pro" racing
where the athletes are compensated but for grass roots racing

I can't help but wonder what happened to the $5-$7 entry fees of old.
Bob, you have been around longer than me, tell us how much you paid
for race entry back in "the day".... OK..now, HOW did THEY possibly do

When I started racing the max entry fee was $6. Actually I don't think
we're that far apart in our thinking, but our perceptions of the
reality of promoting races in this country are pretty different.

Here is the required reading before I go on. This is a post by AHM
from a couple of years ago, explaining why running women's races was
costing him money. The current topic is different, but there are
important points he

http://groups.google.com/groups?&ie=...l.c om&rnum=1

The first race I ever promoted was in 1993. We charged $5 and made
money on the race. This was only possible because I live in a place
where there are more cows than people so we had no police costs of
permit fees with any local unit of government. If we were somewhere
where people outnumbered cows we never would have been able to pull
it off. And we could never do that now, what is different is:

- The insurance fee doubled
- Single day licenses
- I realized that not having cops was an unacceptable risk
at certain intersections
- The local guy that was our official quit officiating. I was
able to compensate for this by getting my official's license
but if the event needs more than me I have to pay someone
to drive here.

When I first got into race promotion I was shooting for break even.
I very quickly realized this was not acceptable. I needed a lot of
volunteer help to pull races off and if all I had was a sense of
giving back to the sport to motivate people then people were going
to be avoiding me before races.

So I don't think there is any way I could charge $10 for a race and
pull it off. And my expenses are much lower than those for people
who live places where people outnumber cows.

I suppose I could spend time I don't have hustling sponsorship. I
like to think I have a grip on the promotional value of a bike race
in this country. In the vast majority of cases it is nothing, and
in some cases it is negative because having the bike race
irritates people. But we used to hustle local businesses for $50-$100
checks in exchange for a logo on the flyer. We stopped doing this
because no one have the time and it didn't seem worth it for the
money we brought in.

Currently our best source of sponsorship money is a guy in the
club that hits up the vendors that he does business with for
kickbacks. These people do not care at all about the sport or any
promotional opportunity it provides. They are interested in
doing business with the guy in the club. We have brought in much
more money this way than we ever did based on the promotional
value of a race or the club.

I will bet that the Belgians were working from a license database
with all the information you had on that race program and only had
to record who had actually shown up in order to generate the start
list. Which is a good idea, that is for sure.

I never saw a single computer when I signed in at more than 200 races
there. They had someone typing and someone (No ****) using one of
those old hand crank presses..

Typically our club runs two races a year. One of them was this past
weekend. Last night I pulled entry forms at random and checked them
for ledgibility.

I don't know how the Belgians did it. But there is no way I could
pull it off without a huge error rate. Which is pretty much what
happens. The race last weekend was a time trial and I can pick
out all kinds of errors in the start list, which is just names.

After every race I pull together results. After every race I sort
through names and addresses on checks, internet race results, even
Yahoo people search, to verify names, hometowns, and club affiliations.
I flush a lot of time doing this after every race, even though
I can make a ton of corrections just through knowing the rider base
and people that come back every year.

So I guess this is possible depending on the error rate you are
comfortable with.

This year we did pre-entry and a late fee for the first time with
this race, using one of the online vendors (bikereg.com). I downloaded
the entry list (which had no errors in names or hometowns) and put
it on a CD for the timer. Who uploaded it painlessly. We had a record
turnout for the race yet it went more smoothly than years past when we
spent all our time before the race frantically scrambling to do what
you say should be easy. My experience was such that for next year I
plan on offering cheap entry only to people that enter online. People
that want to go though the mail will pay more and day of registration
will ante up the most. Because they make us work the hardest.

But until YOU have figured out how to get enough sponsorship
money to get away with charging low (if at all) entry fees, and
YOU have tried to round up enough volunteer labor to do that amount
of race day entry, and YOU have secured finances such that you
can tell the 50 guys that showed up with illegible entry forms
5 minutes before the scheduled start time to buzz off...

1. Find a place that serves affordable food and (alcohol) drinks
outdoors and is open in the afternoon
2. Tell them you want to have A (Yep just one , not 15 in a day) bike
race which starts and finishes in front of their establishment which
only will last 2-3 hours on a afternoon.
3. Tell them if they give you $1000 you will guarantee a return (not
to mention exposure and a chance to enhance the community)
4. Have the race pass the restaurant a minimum 10 times.
5. Have the sign-in and awards at the restaurant.
6. Find another restaurant in another community and start at step 2.

Sure you might not score with the first cafe whoops, I mean
restaurant, you approach but eventually you will. Oh no, I've let the
long lost secret out of the bag.

At the risk of repeating myself, have you actually done this? Convinced
someone to pay $1000 for the privilege of hosting a bike race? I know
at least one case where a race was told to get lost by a restaurant
owner (who was paying nothing) because driving his regular business
away was costing him more than the race brought in.

We've run many races hosted by local restaurants. They tolerate us only
if we run the race at a time that is typically slow for them. Once I
was told that I couldn't have a Saturday because they booked wedding
receptions on Saturdays and, ****, let's not compare the economic
impact there. Another told me I couldn't have a Sunday because they
booked private parties and... well I guess both were really the same
reason. A couple hundred bike racers and their friends do not have the
same impact that a much smaller group has that is bent on eating and
drinking with a purpose.

There is no way I could have hit on either of these places for money.
Stuff that works in Belgium does not work here. I am still not
convinced that you have pulled off races like you've described above.

Bob Schwartz

Old July 11th 03, 08:44 PM
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Default Promoter's Lament -- from Hamilton world's site

"inconnu" wrote in message news:pan.2003. 4-cm0f2069983361.cpe.net.cable.rogers.com...
"I was appalled by the lack of organization, planning and
professionalism by many of the teams attending our national
championship. Some riders and team managers apparently have no respect
for the sport."


Well if the Organizers had some choice comments about the squads at the
Canadian Nationals, I'm waiting for the choice comments the squads
have about the organizers when they see the course.

Seriously, I'm not sure what you're trying to say. That it's a lousy
course ? or too hard ?

Not scenic enough ? Well Hamilton ain't Verona.


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