Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mayor Bill Foster's Disappointing Half Marathon

There has been a lot of coverage about the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon that was hosted in St Petersburg a couple weeks ago, and how the impact on the city that the Mayor and the race promoters promised never materialized. While that wouldn't normally surprise or upset us, this happened even after the city gave $30,000 in services to the private for-profit race promoters, on top of $100,000 from the Pinellas County(which is much more than any of the not-for-profit half marathons in the area receive). The actual number of racers was about half the original estimate of 15,000 that the race planners had mentioned to the city council and Mayor when they were being sold on the idea of financially supporting the private venture. It turns out that after they had their promise of city money that they "revised projections" to a much lower number, very convenient for them, but that didn't seem to bother the Mayor. As for the actual impact, on the morning of the race Mayor Bill Foster was quoted as saying "Every hotel, every restaurant will be packed.", even though that is not at all what happened, some businesses even said they lost business because of the half marathon. Last year when the city was being sold on financially supporting the private race, economic impact numbers of $12 million and 10,000 hotel guests were being touted, yet Philip Porter, a USF economics professor, said the real impact won't be anywhere near those numbers.

Oh, and don't think that we forgot about the City's poor handling of the $15 parking fees for the expo at the Trop attached to this event, that just added insult to injury.

And speaking of adding insult to injury, the race promoters chose to put the soon-to-be-demolished Pier prominently on all of the metals they gave out. Did anyone think to tell them it might not be around when they hold this race next year?

Hopefully when the next Lyle Lanley comes to St Petersburg looking for corporate hand-outs, our Mayor won't end up wasting our money again.

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