Edited by Wolfgang Maennig and Andrew Zimbalist
Chapter 21: Tour de France: A Taxpayer Bargain Among Mega Sporting Events?
Judith Grant Long* 1 INTRODUCTION The Tour de France is a unique case among mega sporting events, offering a relative bargain for host cities especially when compared to the Olympics, FIFA World Cup soccer, and other large-scale global events. In exchange for a relatively modest level of public investment – often a few million euros1 in fees, road upgrading, and municipal services, the 30 or more towns and cities that serve as ‘stage hosts’ each year successfully leverage the Tour to promote themselves as tourist destinations, to capture short-term spikes in local spending on hospitality services, to upgrade local cycling infrastructure, and to provide an enjoyable amenity for area residents. Since the Tour passes through more than 600 towns and cities over its approximately 3,500 kilometer length, with its route changing every year to ensure that all of France’s regions are featured, these branding, tourism, infrastructure, and amenity benefits are spread across the entire country, achieving a national distribution of benefits rarely achieved in sports or other mega events that are more typically centered on specific metropolitan regions. Eponymously, the Tour is always held in France, implying that the leverage associated with competitive bidding among aspiring hosts, or the threat to relocate the race in its entirety to another country, is reduced. And while cities and towns compete with one another to host individual stages of the race, the cost of hosting a day of the Tour de France – at least for the time being – is modest compared to that...
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