Kansas City Star Editorial: Don't cancel Tour of Missouri bike race

By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

Canceling the Tour of Missouri bike race is a bad idea. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon should release the funds.

The suggestion was perhaps understandable: The Department of Economic Development needed budget cuts, and $1.5 million for a bike race might look like a luxury in tough times.

But the timing is horrible, so close to the September event. Canceling the race could expose the state to unnecessary litigation.The race is one of only two top-level bike races in the United States. It showcases Missouri to the region, nation and world.

And it’s just building its reputation, as racers approach the third annual event.Bicyclists including Lance Armstrong’s racing team and five other teams now competing in the Tour de France are expected.

A study of the economic impact of the race last year estimated 430,000 spectators spent almost $30 million, attracting tourists from 32 states and 21 countries. That’s a good return on a $1.5 million investment.

State economic development officials insist their priorities these days have to be focused on job creation. But an event that attracts a worldwide television audience is a priceless advertisement for Missouri, a boost to tourism, and that means jobs.

Organizers believe in coming years that private sponsors will replace state investment, which now covers half the cost. That’s the right approach going forward.

Republican Lt. Gov. Pete Kinder is a big backer of the race. If this is a Democratic slap at one of the state’s high-profile Republicans, as some suspect, it’s shameful.

Bottom line, the Tour of Missouri is a boon for our beautiful state. Canceling is a losing idea.

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