MODESTO — Livermore is out. Likewise Santa Rosa, Auburn, Escondido and Carlsbad.
Citing donor fatigue and the rising financial burden placed on host cities by Amgen Tour of California organizers, those five cities have announced they will not be submitting bids to host the cycling race in May, 2014.
So where does this leave Modesto and Turlock two cities that already have submitted 2014 bids?
"I think the dropout of these teams will give us an advantage, and we're going full speed ahead," said Jennifer Mullen, co-chair of the tour's local organizing committee and executive director of the Modesto Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"The race has been such a positive thing for Modesto and we're always thrilled to have these athletes in our city."
The Tour of California will be staged for the ninth time in 2014. Modesto became part of the race in 2008 as a host for a stage start, then hosted a stage finish from 2009-11 before being left out of the two most recent tours.
The tour bypassed the entire Central Valley in 2013 as it went south-to-north for the first time, and there is no guarantee race organizers are as much as considering any foray into the Valley in 2014.
In fact, race director Jim Birrell told the San Jose Mercury News that among the grand scenarios being considered are routes that would keep the riders entirely in the northern or southern halves of the state.
The lone certainty right now is that the financial burden to host the event continues to rise. Modesto organizers were able to offset around $200,000 in costs in 2010 entirely through private sector donations. Through donations, Sonora was able to offset the bulk of the $100,000 it spent to host a stage start in 2012.
But this year, AEG which owns and operates the Tour of California is seeking additional outlays from host cities in the form of additional hotel rooms for officials, riders and their entourages. AEG also is requiring local committees to absorb all permit fees.
"The increased costs are an issue for us," Mullen said. "Maybe, with these other cities stepping out and speaking about the costs it might forced AEG to rethink its demands.
"Hosting this event does get expensive, and I'm estimating with the additional requirements we might have to raise an additional $20,000 to 50,000."
Modesto's local organizing committee also continues to estimate that for every dollar spent on the Tour, $6 is spent locally in return.
"If we're selected to be a host we'll discuss all of these concerns with the race committee," said Julie Hannon, parks, recreation and neighborhoods director and local organizing committee co-chair.
"The increasing costs are a concern for us, and getting the increased sponsorship support always in an issue, but we've always been successful. If it ever came down to a general fund situation, it would be something the Council would have to weigh-in on."
Tour organizers have aimed in past years to announce the roster of host cities by the end of September. Last year's announcement didn't come until Nov. 27 and the actual route was revealed on Feb. 13.
"They always say September and it never is," Hannon said. "So when they tell us, they tell us. We've learned not to set our calendar by when the announcement is supposed to come."
Brian VanderBeek can be reached at (209) 578-2150 or follow him on Twitter, @modestobeek