A big and exciting event may cycle through Big Bear Lake next spring, though a decision will not be made until July. That event is the AMGEN Tour of California, which in this, it’s fourth year, included 17 of the world’s top professional cycling teams (including Lance Armstrong among them) on a 750-mile course that was seen by more than 2 million fans along the race route and, via TV, print, radio and Internet, reached 3.5 billion consumers. In recent weeks, the AMGEN Tour approached the City of Big Bear Lake, as the 2010 event will take place in May, rather than in February, and event organizers are looking to stage a high-altitude finish. As Rick Bates of the Event Resource Office outlined it for the City Council of Big Bear Lake on June 8, “They’ve been really vocal about the fact that they’ve been targeting Big Bear. They would like to see Big Bear in this, and this could happen for years and years. I’ve talked to the County, and they’re verbally in support of it. It’s really amazing—people are jumping through hoops for this.” However, as an upfront financial commitment of $135,000 will be required, Bates noted, “The very first most important thing they want to see is that the City is behind this.” The AMGEN Tour, which is the largest biking event in North America, now on par with the Tour de France, could potentially bring 40,000 spectators to the Big Bear Valley, and Bates says he conservatively estimates an economic impact of $1-2 million. That said, a financial outlay from potential partners including the City, County, Resort Association, Chamber of Commerce and the ERO could be easily recovered—perhaps in T.O.T. alone, Councilmember Michael Karp pointed out. In his research, Bates reported that the economic impact is about $50 per spectator and, of those cycling enthusiasts, the median income is about $75K, prompting Bates to say, “It’s a group of people we’d like to bring to Big Bear Lake.” As for impact to locals, the AMGEN Tour operates on a tight, rolling closure, so as the cyclists power through, it is estimated that road closures would be an hour or less—in fact, the Golden Gate Bridge was temporarily closed for this year’s tour in February. City Councilmembers expressed their enthusiasm for the AMGEN Tour though, as Liz Harris said, “This really puts us on the world stage, and exposure like we’ve never seen [but] I want to ask that we take care of our community—there’s a whole bunch of people who don’t care at the same level, but care about getting to the grocery store. My main concern is that we need to bring the community along with us.” The City Council, RA and Chamber have committed their financial support and, again, come July, we will know if the AMGEN Tour of California will include Big Bear Lake in 2010.