Without a Sponsor, Organizers Put Brakes on 2017 Manayunk Bike Race

Lack of sponsorship money, rising security costs to blame for cancellation of 2017 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, say organizers

There will be no professional cyclists climbing the Manayunk Wall this year.

Without enough sponsorship money to cover race logistics, organizers of the iconic Philadelphia International Cycling Classic called off the 2017 race along the Schuylkill River and into Manayunk.

"Regrettably, even after extensive fundraising efforts, we were not able to find enough sponsors interested in covering the $1 million cost of the bike race to host it this year," representatives from the City of Philadelphia Managing Director’s office said in a news release.

The city, which organizes the race, made the tough decision to cancel the annual event just for this year.

"The decision did not come easy for the City of Philadelphia," said race director Robin Morton, of g4 Productions. "We’ve been moving forward with plans for the race and changes to the course for months. We are keeping our hopes high for PICC to return next year."

Dating back to the 1980s, the race looping from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, down Kelly Drive and into Manayunk normally draws thousands of spectators, many gathered along the uphill portion of the Manayunk Wall.

"We were saddened to learn that the Philadelphia Cycling Classic will not be returning in 2017," USA Cycling’s Vice President of National Events Micah Rice said. "This event has been a cornerstone of the US professional racing landscape for over three decades. While it is the nature of major events to sometimes run their course, we are excited about the overall health of the US domestic racing calendar and the addition of other quality races. We hope that the City of Philadelphia will be able to bring back this prestigious event in the future."

The race brought throngs of partiers out to Manayunk each year and the cost to keep the spectators safe became prohibitive, business leaders said.

Jane Lipton, executive director of the Manayunk Development Corporation called the development surprising saying the race has been scaled back in recent years because of budget trouble.

"The grim reality is that security costs to stage large-scale events of this nature have spiraled nearly out-of-control," Lipton said. "In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy and, more recently, the terrorist attacks in Paris and Germany, Homeland Security and local police are mandating that extraordinary and costly security measures be put in place before granting permission to host these types of large, outdoor events."

Morton hoped for a sponsor able to cover increased security costs to come along.

"We are hoping for a savior," she said. "I think it would have to happen quickly but if somebody were to step up that would be wonderful news for everybody."

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D - Pa. 1st) may be that angel. Late Friday, Democratic congressman from Philadelphia said he is going to call in some favors from local corporations to try and raise the cash.

"We're going to go to some of our deep pocket friends. Some of our corporations need to be stepping up to the plate," Brady said. "We'll take a shot at it."

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