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Tour of Missouri in jeopardy

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The 2009 Tour of Missouri race is in jeopardy, because of a potential cut to the state budget.

The Department of Economic Development is recommending the state cut its allocation of $1.5 million to the bicycle race, now in its third year.

D.E.D. spokesman John Fougere says it's all part of the belt-tightening process.

"Like other state agencies, the Department of Economic Development was asked to identify areas that can be cut, so that Missouri won't wind up like other states that are raising taxes or cutting education and health care," Fougere said.

The Lieutenant Governor's office is heavily involved in the Tour of Missouri. Spokesman Gary McElyea says they'll ask Governor Nixon not to cut state funding for the race.

"$1.5 million is a fairly small investment...(when you look) over the past two years, we've invested about the same amount and come out each year with around a $30 million economic impact...especially in a tough economic year, those are the type of investments you want to make," McElyea said.

A decision from the Governor's Office may come next week.

Chris Aronholt is Managing Partner for Medalist Sports, the company that operates the Tour of Missouri. He says cancelling the race two months before it's scheduled will likely result in lawsuits.

"There are contracts in place with the communities, there are contracts in place with the teams; (from) vendors, such as Medalist Sports, to hired staff to plan for and implement the race...other vendors that are part of the event," Aronholt said.

Aronholt added that cancelling this year's Tour of Missouri would most likely kill the event permanently.

A website has already been created to rally supporters of the race: