Kevin Valine

Modesto previews its Amgen Tour of California commercial

Here’s your chance to see how the city wants to portray Modesto to the world.

The city has put out a preview of its 30-second commercial that will be broadcast in May during the Amgen Tour of California, the annual road race featuring some of the world’s best professional cyclists. You can view it at

We looked at it in the newsroom, and the response was mixed. Some of us loved it, while others thought it was OK. I liked it (especially since city spokeswoman Amy Vickery said it cost $500 to make). But I don’t think it will attract tourists and visitors. As one co-worker put it: “I’m not sure they would come here because of the commercial, but they are less likely to avoid Modesto. It made Modesto look kind of interesting.”

The commercial features some city mainstays: the Gallo Center for the Arts, the State Theatre, the McHenry Mansion and Museum, a farmer’s market and classic cars. Vickery said Modesto hired Central Valley TV to produce the commercial.

Here are the basics for those who have not been following the Tour of California controversy. The cyclists will not race here, as they did in 2008-2011 when Modesto was one of the stages along the tour. Instead, the cyclists and their teams will spend the night here on May 18 after finishing Stage 4 in Monterey County and before the start of Stage 5 the next day in Lodi.

The City Council in February, on a 4-3 vote, authorized spending as much as $75,000 to provide meals and lodging for about 350 cyclists and team members. City officials said this was a way to promote Modesto and strengthen its relationship with the tour in the hope that it will return in the future. But the decision has been widely criticized.

City officials said they would solicit sponsorships and donations to recoup the $75,000. Vickery said the city has raised nearly half of that amount, including $22,000 the tour will spend on hotel rooms. The tour made that decision after the council vote.

In exchange for the $75,000, the tour agreed to broadcast the commercial and provide the city with other promotional and marketing items, including signed jerseys, booths at the lifestyle festivals in Lodi and South Lake Tahoe (where Stage 5 ends) and VIP passes for the tour in Lodi and South Lake Tahoe. The city had planned to sell these items to help recoup the $75,000.

In other city news

I wonder if the city could have avoided trouble with the McClure property if it had met with the family before deciding to sell some of the land and the 1880s-era farmhouse. The McClure heirs filed a claim this month against the city, essentially trying to stop the sale.

Back in the mid-1970s, Ida and Lawrence McClure sold the city 22 acres and the farmhouse with the understanding the city would turn the property into a living history museum honoring the region’s agricultural heritage. The property is on the south side of Dry Creek, bounded by McClure and Claus roads.

The city never developed the property, citing budget constraints, and in December the City Council declared 16 acres, which includes the farmhouse, as surplus property and authorized the staff to sell it. A city report says Modesto faces no restrictions in selling the property, though the claim challenges that.

Modesto resident Alison Peltier – one of the McClure’s three daughters – told me in December that no one from the city had met with her or other family members about this, though she had heard rumors of the city’s plans. In an email last week, I asked Deputy City Manager Brent Sinclair whether the city had met with the family. His emailed response: “An official from the city will be contacting the heirs and/or their legal counsel.”

No matter how strong the city’s legal position is regarding its right to sell the property, common sense and courtesy would dictate that the city meet with the heirs first. The city could have explained its position and perhaps suggested another way to honor Ida and Lawrence McClure’s intentions while still selling the land and farmhouse.

Kevin Valine: 209-578-2316