Triathlon sponsors have work cut out for them

The Baltimore Sun

Organizers of what would be downtown Annapolis' first triathlon are racing to put together traffic, parking and trash proposals to calm frustrated business owners who say the event will "overwhelm" the city.

The Annapolis Triathlon Club, which has been working with city officials to put together the Sept. 9 event, will meet with several community groups this week after getting complaints during a four-hour hearing Monday night.

Mayor Ellen O. Moyer, who sponsored the bill allowing the club to lease portions of City Dock, acknowledged that some concessions will have to be made.

She said it would be a "national embarrassment," if the bill failed to pass.

"The fact that we have so many people from around the country and world who want to come to Annapolis speaks volumes about Annapolis as a place where people want to be," Moyer said. "We have a role to play as a good hostess and you can jolly well bet that, if we are a good hostess, people will come back and stay and eat and shop and maybe say this is where I want to live."

Already, 1,500 athletes, mostly from Maryland, have signed up for the race, and there's room for 100 more, said Tom Smith, of the Annapolis Triathlon Club, who is also a city employee.

Bike and running routes would include Randall and Main streets and Maryland Avenue among others and require some closures and rerouting of traffic. Athletes would swim the Severn River, Spa Creek and exit at the City Dock, depending on the course.

Organizers estimate that the event could draw as many as 10,000 participants and spectators, who would park at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and use shuttles to get downtown.

Smith said that the city's offerings are a big draw.

"Triathletes choose towns like Annapolis because there are things to do here; it's not all about the racing," he said.

Yet for some business owners, the foot traffic means traffic tie-ups and possible cancellations of tours booked months in advance.

"I am all for triathlons; it's just the sheer size of the event," said Matt Grubbs, owner of Discover Annapolis, who has a tour scheduled on the same day as the race. "If the city council approves the lease, it will give Annapolis a black eye in the eyes of tour operators and wedding planners."

The council's economic matters committee will discuss the measure June 29, and the council will vote on the bill July 9.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad