El Tour short nearly $100,000 in sponsorships - Tucson News Now

El Tour short nearly $100,000 in sponsorships

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

El Tour de Tucson officials say they don't have a title sponsor for this year's race and are approximately $97,000 short on corporate sponsorships.

They say the race will still go on this year on Saturday, Nov. 23, but they do need a title sponsor for next year.

They expect to have 9,000 participants this year, which is 200 more people than last year.

Officials say if there is no title sponsor for next year, the organization might have to look into raising participation fees.

For decades, the El Tour de Tucson has symbolized not just cycling in Tucson but has also become a rally for healthy living.

"Our health department diabetes prevention program has a team that is going to ride."

It raised over $2 million dollars last year for 35 beneficiaries.  It generates an estimated $18-$30 million for the local economy on race weekend alone.  But it's the race that needs a shot in the arm, a $97,000 one. It has no title sponsor. UAMC spent six years in that spot, and even the race's executive director said that's a long time for the same one.

"They wanted to make sure we develop a program on bicycling to use it as a prevention tool to diseases and physical challenges. So, they did their job. It's somebody else's turn. We just have to find somebody else, that's all," said El Tour founder and executive director Richard DeBernardis.

Organizers say they have proposals out there in front of potential sponsors. But even if the race dodges a bullet this year, it needs to start next year in a good position.

"If we go into a loss, what that's going to do, we're going to have to raise the fees to the cyclists next year in order to pay for the loss this year and we don't want to do that," DeBernardis said.

"El Tour" is the largest cycling event in Tucson and Southern Arizona. It attracts around 9,00 cyclists from around the world for the 111-mile, 85-mile, 60-mile or 42-mile races. A 6-mile, 3-mile and quarter-mile Fun Ride is also offered.

The University of Arizona Medical Center was the title sponsor for the previous six years.

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