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City hopes Armstrong will generate revenue

Posted: February 21, 2009 11:57 p.m.
Updated: February 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Lance Armstrong signs autographs before the start of the Amgen 2009 Tour of California in the Valencia Town Center parking lot Saturday.

As Santa Clarita was only a starting point in this year's 2009 Amgen Tour of California - not a crowd-and-revenue-drawing ending point - the city's economic guru didn't expect it to top last year's take of $2 million for local businesses.

However, he is hoping the star power of Lance Armstrong will help make up the difference.

"We don't expect as much of a dollar impact this year, but the media exposure is 10-fold because of Lance Armstrong riding," said Jason Crawford, Santa Clarita economic development and marketing manager.

"We're on stage for the world to see. That helps us when we're looking to attract businesses here. This way they've heard our name before," Crawford said. "They already have a good image of us."

Last year, the race had a finish and a start in Santa Clarita keeping travelers in town and spending money.

Crawford said he would have calculations for this year's revenue boost at a later time.

Westfield Valencia Town Center set up a VIP tent along Town Center Drive for Saturday's Stage 7 start with drinks and a living-room feel to entertain potential retailers and restaurant owners.

Crawford said the goal was to allow those potential retailers to see Santa Clarita as a dynamic community and to realize the town center is not just a shopping mall but a place where world-class events take place.

"We've invited quite a few prospective tenants so they can see the true synergy of Santa Clarita," said Theone Miller, marketing director for Westfield Valencia.

Although the event only lasted for a few hours in Santa Clarita, local hotels were sold out Friday night by fans closely following the race, Crawford said.

Johnny Rockets welcomed the race as the restaurant's patio filled with customers enjoying chili dogs and hamburgers while watching the cyclists take off.

Johnny Rockets General Manager Tony Gonzalez said the restaurant doesn't usually get a morning crowd like the one it served Saturday.

"It helps business a lot," he said of the race. "We get more walk-in traffic."


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