If sports marketing is an endurance race, the decision by AEG Worldwide to move the Amgen Tour of California bicycle race from February to May will pay off over the long haul.
In the short term, there’s going to be some whining up and down the Central Coast because moving the race will have an overall negative effect on hotel and restaurant sales.
A simple glance at the calendar underscores the fact that a shift from winter to spring will move the race from the nearly dead winter season to the much busier late spring run-up to Memorial Day.
But this shift in dates for the Amgen Tour is bigger than a few hundred missing dinner reservations. It has the promise of creating a brand-building blockbuster of a professional sports event for the Central Coast — something hitherto unheard of for these parts.
Better May weather (fog and fires excepted) almost certainly will bring out far bigger crowds of spectators, better energized participants and above all, better opportunities for live and taped television time.
That, in turn, will give much greater visibility to many places on the Central Coast. Already the Tour has contacted the city of Ventura, much overlooked in the race in recent years, about venues and opportunities for the 2010 race.
With better weather, the Amgen Tour of California could take in the full sweep of the Central Coast including Morro Bay, the urban-coastal environments of Ventura Harbor and perhaps a jaunt through California State University, Channel Islands, or California Lutheran University.
Moving the Amgen Tour of California holds out the promise of truly creating a bicycle race that can rival the Tour de France. Look out Paris, the Central Coast is sneaking up behind you.