ST. PETERSBURG — The St. Pete Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon didn't do very well the last time it was in town.
But the city has decided to give the race another chance, according to Ben Kirby, spokesman for Mayor Rick Kriseman. If the City Council approves it, St. Petersburg will hear rock music in the streets next March as runners take on the course.
Competitor Group Inc., the San Diego-based company that hosts Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathons around the world, pulled the plug on the 2014 race in St. Petersburg after two years of low attendance.
CGI estimated between 12,000 and 15,000 runners would compete in 2012. But that year, roughly 7,000 showed up, and the turnout was even lower in 2013.
In 2012 and 2013, CGI got $130,000 from the city each year. This time, the city won't pay CGI anything. For the city, Kirby said, that was a selling point.
"This type of race usually demands a premium from the communities it goes to," said Joe Zeoli, managing director for the city's administration and finance department. "That shows us they're willing to work with us."
Zeoli was on the committee that decided to bring CGI back to town. Figuring out how to avoid what happened last time, he said, was "certainly on the forefront of our minds."
Why bring CGI back?
A change in CGI management left city officials more confident about hosting future races, Zeoli said. And with no cost to the city, the race will serve purely as marketing for the community.
When it comes time to negotiate an agreement with CGI, Zeoli said there will be specific language about honoring the three-year commitment.
"They left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths," he said. "They're coming in realizing they have to prove themselves."
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