In the world of cycling, some events are participant driven and others spectator driven. Cyclo-Cross National Championships attracted over 1,600 participants while the Pro Road Championships had over 25,000 spectators but only 150 participants. Micah Rice, Vice President of National Events, USA Cycling, was hired in 2009 to head the National Events Department. They run the USA Cycling National Championships for the disciplines of Road Cycling, Mountain Biking, Cyclo-Cross, Track Cycling, and BMX. They also run between 14 and 18 National Championship events per year. In finding the right venue for their events, they seek out Sports Commissions and Convention and Visitors Bureaus who are good destinations for their events and can host a championship-level event. Rice shares, “We lean on the Sports Commission or CVB to help us find the right hotel and venue for our needs. We have an RFP bid process for each event. Our biggest challenges are weather and road closures. Bike races are almost always outside so we are constantly at the mercy of Mother Nature. And there are thousands of amazing roads to host road cycling on in the United States but very few city partners who can give us their roads for enough time to run a championship event.”
As Commissioner for the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC), Josh Fenton is tasked with finding a city that is somewhat centralized, but in a neutral spot for the competing teams. In his searching process, the Target Center in Minneapolis stepped up! Last year was their inaugural year and they received great feedback on the location as participants and fans credited having a great experience because of the city’s downtown infrastructure of hotels, bars, restaurants, and other activities. Lucky for them they’ll be back since NCHC committed to a five-year agreement. As Fenton notes, “The Target Center doesn’t do a lot of hockey, but they do it very well.”
In addition to finding the right space, in this case an icy one, the city also needed to be able to offer the group the best opportunity to engage fans and generate attendance. In working with the city partners, including the CVB and MN Sports Commission they did just that, including a pre-event fan fest incorporating food, games, live music, and family activities in March 2015.
Sporting events may have needs that are vast and varied, but so is the Midwest! Through working together with the individual cities and their CVBs, Sports Commissions, hotels, and venues, anything is possible!