News Column

Council approves tourism funds for bike races

June 26, 2014

By Brad Kellar, The Herald Banner, Greenville, Texas

June 26--GREENVILLE -- The Greenville City Council has awarded tourism funding to a Dallas group planning to race through the streets of downtown one weekend in August.

The money presented to Dallas Racing was the last of the hotel/motel occupancy tax revenue available in the city's current budget. A separate vote Tuesday, to close several roads for the two-day event, raised concerns over parking availability for a major concert scheduled in the Greenville Municipal Auditorium (GMA).

The City of Greenville charges a tax of 7 percent on each night's stay in a local hotel or motel room and then divides the money among the various groups which have applied for the funds. The events they sponsor must enhance and promote tourism and/or the convention and hotel industry in Greenville.

The applications are reviewed by the Tourism and Convention Advisory Board, then the board's recommendations are presented to the council, which has the final say as to what is eventually included in the annual city budget.

Earlier this month, the board heard a presentation from the Dallas Racing Criterium Series, a non-profit organization, which requested funding in the amount of $15,000 to host the event.

The board recommended awarding the organization $7,000.

Main Street Manager Doyle Dick, who works with the board, told the council during Tuesday's meeting that the majority of the current year's funding had already been approved and awarded, with $10,000 left in the fund.

Council member James Evans, himself an avid cyclist, was in favor of awarding the entire $10,000.

"It is a day of excitement and a night of excitement," he said.

The event will consist of two days of bike races in downtown Greenville. More than 400 participants and visitors are expected from Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. This races are part of the Texas Bicycle Racing Association and includes junior cyclists. Racing would begin at 1 p.m. and at 9:20 p.m.August 16. The August 17 races start at 8 a.m. and are expected to end at 4:10 p.m.

Dick said Tuesday that organizers had conservatively estimated 15-plus hotel nights for the event, although Evans believed there would be more people spending the night.

"The 15 heads in beds, in my opinion, is going to be very, very low," Evans said.

Myrna Merle, secretary for Dallas Racing, said the event will be an omnium, which is likely to bring several hundred riders to Greenville.

"Greenville is a neat downtown and the cyclists love racing downtown," she said. "Greenville has a very good reputation of being bike friendly."

Bob Landon with Landon Winery spoke of how a similar event in McKinney, where he also operates a winery, brought a huge crowd into the Collin County city.

"It does bring the right people to town that you want," Landon said.

To accommodate the races, the council was asked to approve closing Lee Street from Bois D'Arc to St. John, Washington Street from St. John to Bois D' Arc, Stonewall Street from Jordan to Jones and Johnson Street from Jones to Jordan. Barricades would be in place both days, with traffic routed onto adjacent streets.

Kinber Patterson, venue manager for the GMA, reminded the council the auditorium is hosting the "Happy Together" concert, which is expected to be a big draw, on the night of August 16.

"That's going to take up a lot of the parking, is my only concern," Patterson said of the race event, adding that if the concert sells out, that would mean another 1,700 people would be downtown that night.

"And that is going to be a lot of cars," she said.

Greenville Board of Development President and CEO Greg Sims offered the use of the parking garage next to the Paul Mathews Exchange Building, if needed to handle the number of vehicles.

Both measures were approved by the council, although Mayor Steve Reid asked Dick what he would say to anyone needing tourism funding before the next municipal budget.

"Next year, wait until next year," Dick replied.


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Source: Greenville Herald-Banner (TX)

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