Despite some concerns about cost and the impact on open space, Boulder City Council members are supportive of pursuing a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2014.
They also said they want to explore the possibility of an Ironman Triathlon the same year.
At a study session Tuesday night, City Manager Jane Brautigam said it costs much more to host a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge than the city makes in additional tax revenue, but the event also enjoys broad community support.
"A lot of people from Boulder just came out from their homes and lined the roadways, which was lovely, but it didn't bring the revenue we expected," she said. "But it was a really wonderful event for the community, and we got a lot of positive feedback."
According a post-race analysis, last year's event cost the city $283,481 to host and had a direct fiscal impact of $48,000 from non-resident spectators.
Brautigam said the cost to host the race is not likely to go down much because most of it comes from deploying police and fire personnel and road repairs to make the race route as smooth as possible.
A majority of council members said they support pursuing a stage of the race next year, though they want more control over the contract with race organizers.
"This is becoming an international event, and we don't want Boulder to be left out of that," Councilman Ken Wilson said.
But some council members said they have concerns about the expense and the impact on open space.
Councilwoman Lisa Morzel said that if race organizers want a Flagstaff Mountain finish, the city should put a measure on the ballot asking for a charter change.
Boulder's city charter does not allow competitive events on open space. Last year, some community activists raised concerns about the race finish violating the charter. City Attorney Tom Carr said the race did not violate the charter because the event was on the road, not the open space itself.
Councilman Macon Cowles said a ballot measure to change the charter could cause trail runners, who have long wanted to hold races on open space, to organize in favor of allowing competitive events. He said the city is better off with the narrow exemption carved out for the cycling race.
"I think you are going down a dangerous road to suggest a city charter change that would allow more events on open space," Councilwoman K.C. Becker said.
Council members also heard from Dave Christen, of Ironman, about the possibility of holding a full Ironman event in Boulder sometime next summer or fall.
Christen said Ironman events are "turn-key operations" for race organizers because they already hold 29 other competitions around the world. Even in cities such as Madison, Wis., 75 percent of contestants come from out of town. On average, each contestant brings three other people, and they stay for an average of four days.
Christen said the race would stay well away from open space and would be likely to bring significant revenue.
The biggest challenge would be finding a good day for the event that doesn't conflict with the Pro Cycling Challenge, other Ironman races or Colorado's unpredictable fall weather.
Council members said they are interested in exploring that option.
Brautigam said council members need to be clear with Pro Cycling Challenge organizers how they feel about a Flagstaff finish.
"We have heard from the race organizers that that is the most important part of the Boulder stage, so the question is does the council support the Flagstaff finish, and if the answer is no, then the conversation is over," she said.