SBD/April 24, 2013/Events and Attractions

Pittsburgh Marathon Troubled By Increased Security Costs In Wake Of Boston Bombings

Additional security costs could mean the end of the Pittsburgh marathon
Three Rivers Marathon Exec Dir Patrice Matamoros said that if the organization is “forced to bear the cost of the additional police officers and equipment that are in the works in light of the attacks in Boston, it could spell the end" of the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon, according to a front-page piece by Balingit & Navratil of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. While the plan is not yet finalized, Matamoros said she understands the cost to be "significant." Three Rivers Marathon, the nonprofit that operates the race, historically “pays for race security, including hiring hundreds of police officers and security guards.” The organization this year “planned to hire 350 officers from local departments, including the city, county and university police and the county sheriff's office.” Matamoros has said that the organization also “planned to have security guards on hand, for a total cost of around $160,000.” But she said of the potential that the city is unwilling to pay for any additional security, "It will basically bankrupt us. ... We'll drain our accounts and go away next year." But officials have been “purposefully vague about what kind of additional security will be present for this year's marathon -- and how much it will cost.” City officials “may be able to tap federal resources.” Pittsburgh Deputy Emergency Management Dir Ray Demichiei said that in the days after the attacks on the Boston Marathon, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security “issued a bulletin informing municipalities that they could shift the money they receive from the department to pay for extra security for ‘special events,’ including races” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 4/24). In Pittsburgh, David Conti noted organizers “expect help from other big races.” Matamoros said that three staffers from the Boston finish line “will make their third trip to Pittsburgh, joined by eight staffers from the Chicago marathon and one each from Toronto, Houston and the Twin Cities Marathon” (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 4/23).

EMPIRE STATE OF MIND: The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Sara Germano writes the “eyes of the marathon industry are fixed” on N.Y. Road Runners President & CEO Mary Wittenberg, whose ING N.Y. Marathon “features larger numbers of runners and spectators than any other in America.” Germano asks, “Will the New York marathon start subjecting finish-line spectators to security checks? Will insurance rates skyrocket following the Boston bombings and Hurricane Sandy?” Gaining a spot in this year's event “will be more difficult than usual because thousands of slots will be filled by runners displaced by last year's cancellation.” Unknown as yet is “whether fear of terrorism will affect demand.” Wittenberg said, "After 9/11, we saw our numbers decline by between 5,000 and 8,000. I don't think we'll see that big of a difference this year. Marathons aren't about running. They're about unlocking personal achievement. And we'll be out there in force this year" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 4/24).
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