SBD/November 1, 2012/Events and Attractions

Bloomberg Confirms City Will Hold N.Y. Marathon Sunday Despite Storm Damage

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The race will be used to promote recovery efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy
N.Y. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that the city will hold the ING N.Y. Marathon as planned on Sunday “despite uncertainty about manpower and logistics” amid the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, according to Germano & Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Bloomberg said that the marathon “could symbolize the city's resilience, similar to the race held on Nov. 4, 2001, weeks after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” He “called it a boon to the economy.” Mary Wittenberg, the President & CEO of race organizer N.Y. Road Runners, prior to Bloomberg's announcement said, "This event will not go if it were in any way to inhibit the restoration and recovery efforts." But Wittenberg said that “as it stands, adjustments may need to be made to the plans for Sunday's race.” NYRR officials said that they “would make specific announcements about contingency plans beginning Thursday morning, when registration for the race begins at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.” Germano & Futterman report officials are “confident” the marathon course will “be clear for Sunday morning's start.” However, one challenge is the “public manpower involved in the event, especially the New York City Police Department, which provides hundreds of officers to secure the course.” Wittenberg said that in the past the race “has used 1,500 police officers” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/1). ABC's John Schriffen notes Bloomberg "suggested putting a deadline on how late the final runners can cross the finish line on Sunday." It also was announced the race "will be dedicated to the victims of the hurricane and their families" (“GMA,” ABC, 11/1). USA TODAY’s Kelly Whiteside notes opposition to Bloomberg’s decision was “growing on social media.” A Facebook page, “Cancel the 2012 NYC Marathon,” was created yesterday (USA TODAY, 11/1).

ON BOARD WITH THE DECISION: Wittenberg appeared on NBC's "Today" this morning to talk about the decision to go ahead with the race, and NBC's Matt Lauer asked her, “Were you in agreement with this decision?” Wittenberg said, “Once the mayor said let's go forward, New York Road Runners is here to support the city, so we’re ready to do everything we can to help this city.” Wittenberg said if Bloomberg had asked her if that is the right decision, she said, “I would have said, ‘What’s the best thing for New Yorkers?’ ... When he said the best thing is to go, the answer is to do everything we can to support the city and help it get back on its feet." Lauer said the marathon last year raised $34M for charity and asked, “Do you expect some of the money raised for charity to go the relief efforts this year?” Wittenberg: “Yes, we're going to use this platform to really say here's how you can help. ... We're on national television and global television, that'll be the chance to help New York and this entire area move forward and rebound” ("Today," NBC, 11/1).

MAKING IT TO THE START LINE: The AP’s Rachel Cohen noted Wittenberg “expects the field will be smaller than the 47,500 who ran last year because some entrants can't make it to New York, but said so far organizers hadn't received more cancellations than normal.” The three major airports in N.Y. are open “with limited flights, leaving the nearly 30,000 out-of-town runners with hope that they can fly in” (AP, 10/31). In N.Y., Belson & Pilon report NYRR also was “considering whether to cancel two annual events that are held in conjunction with the marathon: the opening ceremony in Central Park on Friday evening and the Dash to the Finish Line 5K on Saturday morning.” Wittenberg said that she has “not seen a large spike in cancellations, but clearly runners are having trouble reaching New York” (N.Y. TIMES, 11/1).

NEED TO EXPLAIN REASONING: USA TODAY’s Christine Brennan writes the announcement not to cancel the event is a “stunning decision that grows more confounding and unseemly by the hour.” Whatever Bloomberg’s reason “to move forward -- to show the world that New York is bouncing back from Sandy, to boost spirits of those suffering, to not lose the millions of dollars the race generates for the city and its business -- it’s the wrong reason.” Brennan: “This is absolutely no time to put on a marathon. Never has a sporting event been less important” (USA TODAY, 11/1). MSP Sports' Tim McGhee wrote on his Twitter feed, "Sorry, holding NY Marathon this weekend & taking all those resources away from recovery is just wrong. Wittenberg's spin is deplorable."

TAKING HITS ON LATE-NIGHT TV: CBS’ David Letterman last night asked the audience, “Anybody in town for the big marathon on Sunday?” After no reaction from the studio audience, Letterman said, “Wow! Yeah! Marathon is still on ladies and gentlemen. Let's see: Major streets and roads in five boroughs still closed, subways not running, power outages all over the city. Yeah, let's have a marathon!" He continued, "Canceling the marathon would not be fair to those people who train all year long just so they can finish in the top 6,000. It would not be fair to those people" (“Late Show,” CBS, 10/31).

WE WANT YOU: Are you or someone you know in the sports business industry running in Sunday’s ING N.Y. Marathon? If so, contact Theresa Manahan at tmanahan@sportsbusinessdaily.com and let her know. Then on Monday, send her your time, a photo and a quick note about the experience to share with our readers.
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