VAIL, Colorado " A shortfall in fundraising has forced the cancellation of what would have been the first professional cycling race in the Vail area in more than 20 years, the Vail Valley Foundation announced Tuesday.
The Colorado Stage International Cycling Classic would have marked the return of pro cycling to Vail, which hasn't been around since the Coors Classic ended in 1988. It was scheduled to feature a 135-mile road race from Breckenridge to Beaver Creek, a circuit race in Vail Village and a time trial from Vail Village to East Vail.
The event required a budget of nearly $2 million, and the Vail Valley Foundation wasn't able to secure enough money, said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation.
A shaky economy has made finding corporate sponsors more difficult, and landing those big sponsors are essential to making large scale bike races possible, Folz said.
"The declining economic picture has made these efforts increasingly difficult, and the final straw came last week when we were not able to close a deal with a presenting sponsor," Folz said.
Canceling the race was extremely disappointing, but the Vail Valley Foundation still wants to bring professional cycling back to Vail " it just looks like it won't happen this year, Folz said.
"I am hopeful and confident that we will have a major international cycling event in Vail in the very near future," said Sean Petty, CEO of USA Cycling.
The cancellation of the bike race could be a small sign that nonprofit groups are having a tougher time raising money during a weak economy in an already competitive valley.
The Youth Foundation, which has created a variety of programs helping disadvantaged students in the valley, hasn't had to cancel or postpone programs this year, but the impact of a down-economy is being felt, said Katie Bruen, marketing director for the foundation.
"When there is economic downturn, the need for help grows," Bruen said. "Families are struggling a little bit more, and we are definitely getting more calls from families needing help paying fees."
Nonprofit groups already seem to be reaching out to the same pools of people, and they can't say yes to everyone every time, said Susan Brown Milhoan, director of development for the Youth Foundation.
And when money is tight, those who are donating have to be a little more careful because the future is uncertain, said
"They have a lot of money and are very generous with their dollars, but they can only go so far," Milhoan said.
Folz sees the biggest impact being on newly created events, like the bike race, which requires asking corporate sponsors to find more room in their budgets along with other things they have been funding for years.
"Our world cup and ski classic have the loyalty of sponsors, and to date, it looks to still be hanging in there," Folz said. "For new events, it would require a corporation to come up with new money."
Milhoan said a goal of the Youth Foundation is to do a better job of reaching out to new groups of people coming into the valley, like new families and second-home owners.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.