Tour de Georgia looking for big $ sponsor

Tue, 03/06/2007 - 6:00pm
By: Michael Boylan

Is the Tour de Georgia in trouble? According to a March 5 story in USAToday, money problems loom.

“Financial problems caused by the loss of sponsors has Tour de Georgia officials seeking a cash infusion to ensure the April 16-22 race goes off as scheduled,” according to the story. “’We do have a rather sizable financial gap at the moment with regard to this year’s tour, but we do remain optimistic about some discussions,’ race director Chris Aronhalt told the Associated Press. Last year’s title sponsor, Ford Group, declined to renew its six-figure investment.”

There are 39 days remaining until the Tour de Georgia is scheduled to depart Peachtree City and begin its seven-day bicycle trek around Georgia and a small part of Tennessee. In the 39 days before the start of the race, though, tour organizers must find a main sponsor.

In previous years, Dodge and Ford have been key sponsors of the race. Ford Group, last year’s sponsor, dropped out of this year’s race. Parent Ford Motor Co. reported a record loss for last year and faces severe cuts in its workforce.

Tuesday, Chris Aronhalt, managing partner of Medalist Sports in Tyrone, which puts on the race, responded to a question about finding a major sponsor.

“We are very confident in our solution and hope to have a ‘green light’ announcement soon,” Aronhalt said. “Our apologies for this slight speed bump.”

The Tour de Georgia attracted over 500,000 spectators last year and brought in $26.2 million dollars for the state.

This year’s race has added stages and will conclude in downtown Atlanta. The Tour de Georgia will be the longest professional stage race in the United States this year and is considered a big lead-in event for the Grand Tours of Europe, which start later this spring and summer.

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