Published online on May 7, 2018
By Edith Ramirez
When the City of San Jose invited Morgan Hill to co-host the Amgen Tour of California, I was immediately overwhelmed with excitement. In my mind, it was a ‘no-brainer’ type of proposition. Why? You may ask. Why would we subject ourselves to the inconvenience of street closures?
Well, for starters, the Amgen Tour of California is the United States’ largest and most prestigious annual cycling stage race and one of the largest and most recognizable cycling races in the world. As a host city, we get tremendous visibility from this event. The race attracts teams and athletes from over 30 countries and thousands of fans that line the route. These teams travel with their entourage and reporters from various countries that follow the race from stage to stage, reporting on their favorite cyclists. The race is broadcast in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Morgan Hill will get two hours of live coverage…. helicopters flying above us, reporting on the race and showcasing our beautiful community to the world. The global audience for the 2017 race was over 16 million viewers. Morgan Hill gets a 30 second commercial (Look for “Morgan Hill-this is how we roll” video on YouTube).
If we aspire for sports/recreation tourism and to attract more sporting events to our community, I cannot think of a better event to provide Morgan Hill that type of international exposure and attention. The race has over 5.8 billion online, print, and broadcast media impressions plus extensive social media and website traffic. We have a unique opportunity to brand ourselves as that special gem within Silicon Valley where you can have the best of both worlds—the creative, life-changing innovation that our companies offer as well as the respite of the beautiful hillsides, award-winning wineries and pick-your-own farms.
As our community, like many other communities in Silicon Valley, struggle with the aches and pains of development fatigue, costs of housing and traffic congestion, as we strive to keep the small town feel of this community, we can benefit from growing our visitors and the economic benefit of growing the area for sports/recreation and wine tourism. Growing the culture of cycling is not only good for the economy, but it also aligns with a community that values health and fitness, and family-friendly activities.
I believe the Amgen Tour of California aligns with our aspirations to nurture a cycling culture and attract visitors to the area to shop, dine and stay at our hotels (all which increases revenues to the city that can pay for pothole repairs and cops!). We just need to make sure we have a good experience. To that end, the City has gone through extraordinary lengths to educate the community about the race and help people plan: mailers, notices on water bills, a dedicated website (www.morganhill.ca.gov/atoc), a hotline (408.669.4060), flyers, posters, notices…the list goes on and on. Our number one priority is to minimize impact to businesses and residents and help people get around the day of the race. I truly hope and trust it will be a great party for the community and the visitors.
In the meantime, I have been truly impressed by the numerous community groups and businesses (too many to mention here) that have stepped up to support this event in ways that are meaningful and positive for the residents of Morgan Hill, such as the school outreach by Specialized Bicycles to all of the elementary schools, teaching them about bike safety and handing out over 3,800 water bottles! And the Open House at Specialized, inviting the community to check out their bike museum and wind tunnel (May 15). We are kicking off pre-race community activities with an evening bike party (May 4) and a concert at the CCC (May 11) featuring the Cocktail Monkeys. We hope the community enjoys all of the family-friendly bike events and the big race. For more information and a full list of events or for information on street closures go to www.morganhill.ca.gov/atoc.
Edith Ramirez is the economic development director for the City of Morgan Hill. She wrote this guest column for Morgan Hill Life.