SBJ/20101129/This Week's Issue

USA Cycling moving into online registration


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USA Cycling will offer registration services to its
2,800 sanctioned races starting Dec. 1.

USA Cycling, the national governing body for professional and amateur bicycle racing, is entering the business of online race registration, which will put the NGB in competition with established registration companies such as the Active Network. USA Cycling will launch its service beginning Wednesday and will offer — but not require — registration services to its 2,800 sanctioned bicycle races.

The move marks a new direction for the governing body, which oversees athlete development and race permitting, and has 70,000 members nationwide. Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, said the move is aimed at bringing in new revenue and streamlining the registration process for race directors.

“We looked at our events, and most of them are using third-party registration, and from our perspective it is a complicated process,” Johnson said. “[A race director] can now activate a permit and open registration before the event is approved. We extract our costs and send the rest to the promoter. It’s seamless.”

USA Cycling officials declined to reveal the value of the online registration service but said the NGB had hired two staffers and invested in new computer servers and the creation of its own software to run the program.

Under the current system, a race promoter first pays USA Cycling a sanctioning fee, which is determined by the number of participants in the event. A third-party online registration company then collects participant entry fees, which range from $20 to $100 per event, and then subtracts a fee of its own, and sends the promoter the difference. After the event, the promoter pays USA Cycling $3 per participant for insurance fees.

“With us [the promoter] will just have to write one check,” Johnson said.

Other NGBs have undertaken online registration for mass-participant events in various formats, but not with the depth and breadth that USA Cycling hopes to achieve. USA Track & Field handles online registration for its national championships, but relies on third-party websites to handle its 4,500 other sanctioned events. USA Triathlon manages a calendar but not registration. USA Tennis runs its own registration by using the technology services and servers of the Active Network. USA Swimming rolled out a similar program in 2006 for its 5,000 swim meets, and between 50 and 75 meets use the service each year.

The NGB ran a soft launch of the program this year for its amateur road, mountain bike and collegiate road events. The success persuaded Johnson to roll out the service to sanctioned events.

The move puts USA Cycling in direct competition with local and national third-party registration websites such as SportsBaseOnline, BikeReg.com and Active.com. Steve Roszko, CEO and founder of Massachusetts-based BikeReg.com, said the launch could have a profound effect on his business. USA Cycling’s registration rates undercut those of BikeReg.com’s by between 10 to 30 cents per person.

“They’ve gone from being a partner to now being a competitor — to me it’s a strange spot for a national governing body to be in,” said Roszko, who launched his business in 1999 and works with approximately 3,000 events. “They have a direct market to the events, so it’s obviously going to have an impact [on business].”

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