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In mid-January, North Star Grand Prix organizers announced that the race would return in 2019 as a UCI women’s stage race, but on Thursday, they said the event is facing a $200,000 shortfall.
In a press release, organizers said they have until May 3 to raise the funds for the mid-June event. They are hoping a crowdfunding campaign can help save the race for 2019 and beyond.
The Minnesota stage race was first held in 1999 and was known as the Nature Valley Grand Prix up until 2014. Organizers were forced to cancel the 2018 event due to logistical challenges with the Minneapolis venue.
Race director Brendon Hale says that year off made it difficult to secure funding for the 2019 edition.
“As a result of last year’s cancellation, our presenting sponsor chose not to renew,” he told VeloNews via email. “We have had countless discussions with potential partners, and as noted some of those were related to a specific course, but to date, we have not secured the necessary sponsorship to fully fund this year’s event.”
His team is still working to find new sponsorship. They also decided to take an unconventional approach to raise this money, setting up a crowdfunding page on GoFundMe.
“During the course of the last year members of our organization were regularly told by members of our community that they would have helped in 2018 had they known we needed help,” he added. “With this in mind, we made the decision to let the community know that we need assistance in getting back on track.”
Originally, organizers planned a five-day stage race, June 12-16. However, they have since scaled back plans, making it a three-day event, June 14-16.
Hale said that they opted to return to a three-day format of one criterium with two longer circuit races because they weren’t entirely comfortable with the timing of getting approval from a new host city.
“Our Thursday road race partner from 2017 opted out and led to new conversations with potential venue partners,” he said. “As we had conversations it became obvious that we should rearrange days for 2019.”
Despite scaling back to three days and facing a significant budget shortfall, Hale remains optimistic.
“Minnesota has a tremendous cycling community and it is our desire to welcome world-class cycling to all Minnesotans,” Hale added. “We have received requests from Spanish, Swiss, Canadian and Australian teams to race at this year’s event. There is great interest to race in Minnesota from many of the best cycling teams in the world.”