RAGBRAI left Cedar Rapids $25,000 dollars short - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

RAGBRAI left Cedar Rapids $25,000 dollars short


The City of Cedar Rapids was excited when they learned they'd be not just an overnight stop for this year's RAGBRAI, but host to the 40th anniversary celebration.

But earlier Thursday, the Cedar Rapids RAGBRAI committee, which was made up of representatives from eight different community organizations, announced that they lost money by hosting the 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Despite thousands of people attending the "Party on the Island," the committee came up $25, 000 short of covering their expenses.

The RAGBRAI budget was around $400,000,which they hoped they would make back through ticket and merchandise sales, but came up short.

 "Those expenses that we had against the revenue included everything," Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett said. "You know, police overtime, so we weren't trying to hide any of the costs.  So we came up about $25,000 short and what we're going to do is use the hotel-motel tax."

That tax had a surplus last year, coming up about $100,000 higher than expected.

"That's how we seeded the RAGBRAI committee," Corbett said.  "We loaned money from the hotel-motel tax, $60,000, to the RAGBRAI committee.  The RAGBRAI committee won't be paying the full amount back."

The Counting Crows concert wasn't the only expense, they also had to cover for law enforcement, shuttles for riders, signs, and various other amenities Downtown and on the campgrounds.

"What the budget hole doesn't account for is the money RAGBRAI riders spent in Cedar Rapids during their stay," Corbett said. "Not only were they here on Thursday spending money, mainly in the downtown area, a lot of the restaurants and the bars, really all of Cedar Rapids.  And then the very next day down in the Czech Village, all those businesses were extremely busy."

Despite the fact that the City of Cedar Rapids ends up losing $25,000 in the end because the money won't be paid back by the RAGBRAI committee, local residents feel the city made the right move by hosting an overnight stop.

"We brought in thousands of people to our revitalized downtown area," Cedar Rapids Business Owner Lydia Brown said. "There were, I happened to have the opportunity to go to the concert, and you just saw a real excitement in the air. 

Now that excitement is exactly what the Cedar Rapids RAGBRAI committee was hoping to get.  They wanted to show off how far the city has come since the 2008 flood, a goal they say was achieved.

That deficit could have been worse. The United Way of East Central Iowa estimates that volunteers saved the committee more than $40,000 because 700 community members helped out with the event, giving 2,000 hours of free labor.

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