Cycling

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John Schnatter, David Jones, Sr. and Sam Swope Race in to Ensure

18 Dec, 2012


For the first time in its 60+ year history, the prestigious event will be held outside of Europe
on February 2-3 in Louisville, Kentucky

The Louisville Sports Commission and USA Cycling today announced that John Schnatter, founder and CEO of Papa John’s International, Inc., David A. Jones, Sr., co-founder of Humana, and Sam Swope, founder of Sam Swope Auto Group, have contributed funding necessary to ensure that the 2013 UCI World Elite Cyclo-cross Championships scheduled for February 2-3, will be held in Louisville. This will be the first time the event has been held outside of Europe.

The funding provided by these community leaders, spearheaded by John Schnatter, was made available after a major sponsor was unable to fulfill its financial commitments. Their contributions will augment contributions provided by USA Cycling, the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Louisville Sports Commission.

“The status of the Cyclo-cross World Championships taking place in Louisville was teetering,” said Karl Schmitt, executive director of the Louisville Sports Commission, which is helping manage the event in Louisville. “We are grateful for the generous support provided by John Schnatter, David Jones and Sam Swope. It is well known in Louisville that when there is a need, you can depend on community leaders to step up to the challenge. Their actions here are a great example of their desire that Louisville has the resources necessary to successfully execute a world-class event. Their financial contributions will go a long way in making this an outstanding event for the participants, cycling fans and the Louisville community.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer echoed those sentiments. “The commitment of support by David Jones, John Schnatter and Sam Swope will help ensure that this world-class event comes off in a world-class city in a world-class fashion.”

Steve Johnson, USA Cycling president and chief executive officer, added, “The level of excitement and fan interaction at a cyclo-cross event of this magnitude cannot be topped. We are pleased to lend our expertise to make sure this event runs smoothly and that we give riders and fans a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. A big thank you goes to our partner, the Louisville Sports Commission, for helping create a warm and welcoming atmosphere to all our international participants. And a special thanks to Louisville’s own John Schnatter, a cycling enthusiast, for leading the way with the generous financial contributions from the local community.”

Ticket sales have been robust and the event is expected to be a tremendous success. “The number of ticket sales thus far indicates a huge level of excitement within the cycling community as we welcome this prestigious event to U.S. soil for the first time,” Johnson said.

The Cyclo-cross World Championships are expected to have a significant economic impact on the local community and “it will provide an opportunity to showcase the Louisville community,” Mayor Fischer added. “This event will not only shine an international spotlight on Louisville, it will have an impact of $3 million to $5 million, which is good for our economy.”

Cyclo-cross is a form of bicycle racing that consists of many laps over a short course featuring pavement, wooded trails, grass, hills and obstacles requiring the rider to quickly dismount, carry the bike while navigating the obstruction and remount. Cyclo-cross has its origins in the early 20th century in Central Europe and is most popular in Belgium, France and the Netherlands with significant participation in Germany, Czech Republic and surrounding areas. The sport was born when road cyclists, who in their late fall and winter off-season, took to the trails, fields and pavement to train. While the smallest in terms of participation of the six sanctioned cycling disciplines, cyclo-cross has spread throughout the globe and is now the fastest-growing cycling discipline in North America.

In 2008, the Louisville Sports Commission began working with Louisville Metro Parks and the Mayor’s office to develop a new course to attract high-level cyclo-cross events to Louisville. In January 2010, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the international governing body of cycling, awarded Louisville the Championships – the first time it has ever been held outside of Europe. The agreement to host the Championships was struck between cycling promoters Bruce Fina and Joan Hanscom and their Kentucky-based LLC – Louisville Championships 2013 (LC2013) – and the UCI, with LC2013 as the financial guarantor. The Louisville Sports Commission served a facilitator in bringing the Championships to Louisville. Louisville Metro Parks invested manpower and financial resources to transform Eva Bandman Park, located on River Road near downtown Louisville, into a world-class cyclo-cross venue that is available to the community for recreational and competitive use on a year-round basis. The Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Louisville Sports Commission pledged a host fee based on the number of room nights generated in mid-winter; the legacy associated with hosting a world championship at a local sports venue and the opportunity to attract additional events; cycling enthusiasts with strong demographics coming to Louisville from across the U.S. and internationally; national and international media exposure associated with hosting a world cycling championship; the opportunity to host international leaders of the cycling industry at the UCI board of directors meeting; and the opportunity to enhance the quality of life and promote healthy lifestyles by supporting the development of the vibrant, local cycling community.

 

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