City bike race rolls on as ‘Parx Casino Philadelphia Cycling Classic’
The city’s annual bike race has been christened the Parx Casino Philadelphia Cycling Classic after newly-announced title sponsor Parx Casino on Thursday pledged $100,000 to keep it rolling.
“It’s much easier to get things done when you have a top cast that want to get this to happen and various people making sure that we don’t lose our tradition,” said Congressman Bob Brady, who in a series of meetings brokered the arrangement following the folding of the 2013 International Cycling Championship due to financial hardship.
“I’m a firm believer that if you lose your tradition, the city of Philadelphia will lose its identity,” he said. “And I didn’t want that to happen.”
Organizers said the new event will feature separate races with equal prize money for men and women. It will follow a similar course through Manayunk – including the infamous wall climb – but will likely be shorter and more viewer-friendly.
“One of our key goals is to make this race as exciting for the spectators who will be lining the street watching this as it will be for the cyclists who are coming to town,” said Philadelphia Triathlon director Richard Adler, who is heading up the race. “I think that’s going to change it up a little bit.”
“I’m just overwhelmed,” said Jane Lipton of the Manayunk Development Corporation. “Two weeks ago, we got some news that was very disturbing. We immediately had a press Q&A and we kind of said to the Philadelphia universe, ‘We need help, this thing can’t die.’ And help came in a way that is unbelievable.”
Stakeholders are meeting on Friday with members of Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration and expect to release more details about the retooled event by the middle of next week.
Officials said that, in the wake of the city’s decision in 2008 to require event organizers to pay for the cost of city services to support parades and festivals, public-private partnerships are becoming increasingly important to ensure that treasured traditions can continue.
“It is a tremendous tradition and we have to afford it,” said Sen. Vincent Hughes. “What this partnership does is send a message of how we need to operate if there’s an issue or a problem. We all come together, no mater where we’re from.”
“We’re willing to help the city and we understand we have a budget problem,” Brady said. “I understood that when we got the Mummers parade back and all the other parades back and we’ll pay for the services.”
“Everything has a value,” Councilman Curtis Jones, Jr. said. “One of the things that the city of Philadelphia has to do is adequately measure what that value is to private sponsorships.”
“Our venues, our vistas, our views, our events have merit to a consuming audience and so we have to figure out exactly what that is so we can market it properly. I think Parx recognizes it. We just have to kind of understand our worth.”
$250,000 from title sponsor Parx Casino in both 2013 and 2014.
$100,000 from New Penn Financial.
$50,000 from the Philadelphia Federal Credit Union.
$25,000 from Sunoco.