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Winning combination

Police and fire games and international bike race expected to boost Virginia tourism

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Print this page by M.J. McAteer
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The World Police and Fire Games were held in Belfast in 2013. AP photo

Virginia is hosting two major athletic events this year, both expected to give the state economy a substantial boost. The World Police and Fire Games will be held in Northern Virginia June 26-July 5, and the UCI Road World Championships will dominate downtown Richmond Sept. 19-27.

Barry Biggar, president and CEO of Visit Fairfax, anticipates that 12,000 active and retired first responders will participate in the police and fire games. They will compete in 61 different sports at venues scattered throughout NoVa, but primarily in Fairfax County. All the events — which range from shooting and soccer, to darts and Dragon boats, to ultimate firefighter and SWAT team competitions  — will be open to the public at no cost. Because many of the athletes will bring family and friends, about 30,000 people are expected. The games are budgeted at $20 million in public- and private-sector money and are forecast to generate $60 million to $80 million in revenue. 

Meanwhile in Richmond, Tim Miller, executive director of Richmond 2015, which is managing the UCI Road World Championships, calls the race “the superbowl of cycling.”  The 12 races, which will be held across nine days, are expected to attract 1,500 top-tier athletes and 400,000 spectators. The projected budget of $21 million potentially will produce an $86 million economic impact on the capital city and a $135 million impact statewide.

The start and finish line for many of the races will be at Fifth and Broad streets in downtown Richmond. Grandstands will line that area while fan zones with jumbo screens to follow the action will be sited around the courses. The plan is for lots of vendors, many based in the convention center, and live entertainment. Satellite parking and shuttles will supposedly keep the downtown from gridlock.
“This is going to be much more than a bike race,” Miller says.

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