SALT LAKE CITY — Disappointed but not discouraged is how Utah Sports Commission CEO Jeff Robbins describes the decision of Mountain Dew and Alli Sports officials to change the format of the Dew Tour that leaves Utah out in the cold.
"While it's disappointing, we're looking at a lot of other opportunities, too," said Robbins, who was instrumental in bringing the Dew Tour to Utah five years ago. "We've been fortunate to have them as long as we have, and we've had the summer for five years and the winter for three."
Losing the Dew Tour means losing millions of dollars in economic impact, and millions more in media exposure.
The summer stop, held in September each year and sponsored by Toyota, brought in $10-12 million each year, while the winter stop, held at Snowbasin, brought in about $6 million.
"The aggregate is that we're losing about $75-80 million in economic impact and almost the same in media exposure," said Robbins. "What it's done for the state and the community has been significant."
Utah isn't being left out of the new format because it was unsuccessful.
In fact, the Beehive State owns about a half-dozen attendance records (four summer and two winter) and was extremely popular with the athletes.
But Mountain Dew negotiated a new deal that included a seat at the managerial table for the tour's title sponsor.
"We had five or six years in Utah and overall, had a great partnership," said Chris Prybylo, Alli vice president of events and Dew Tour general manager, on Monday afternoon. "Everybody locally, the arena to Snowbasin, it's been nothing but a positive experience. … The changes in format, changes in dates, just didn't line up properly for us (to stay in Utah). We decided to go to different markets. … It wasn't anything that wasn't successful; it was a change in the structure of the tour."
The changes are significant, and according to organizers, will serve the athletes, advertisers and fans better. It is, they say, part of the natural evolution of the action sports series.
First of all, the Dew Tour will no longer be a tour. When the tour began, athletes would accumulate points for each competition and then vie for an overall championship. Instead of a tour made up of three-day competitions, the Dew Tour will now be made up of three "grand slam" festival events of four to five-day competitions.
"The action sports landscape has grown and changed dramatically since we launched the Dew Tour in 2005. The multi-stop series format was what the industry wanted and needed then. The Dew Tour changed the industry forever, taking the sports to a whole new level. The new Dew Tour, which will include three major events across beach, city and mountain venues, represents what the athletes and industry want and need today," said Wade Martin, president and CEO of Alli Sports.
The new Dew Tour will debut with an Ocean City, Md., event on Aug. 16-19. The second event will be in San Francisco on Oct. 18-21. And the final event of the year will be in Breckenridge, Colo., Dec. 13-16.
Prybylo said the decision to make the changes came after discussions with athletes and sponsors.
"We're looking to do less, but do bigger, better, more premium events."
Robbins said state officials are already looking at new opportunities in the action sports industry.
"We have a great relationship with Alli Sports (which has managed the Dew Tour and continues to be a partner in the new format), and we're working on a number of ideas in the form of a strategic partnership," he said. "Could a Dew Tour come back at some time? Yes, sure. Supercross was here in the 1990s, then took a break, and then it came back three or four years ago."
Prybylo agreed that Alli and Utah officials would find a new collaboration either on an existing event or something the two come up with together.
"We're exploring various options, and we definitely want to keep our partnership going," said Prybylo. "I felt like a Utah local. … It was overall a great community to work in, which is why we have a desire to work something out. … We're definitely excited about that, and even the Dew Tour in the future, if anything comes up, Utah is always one of the first calls we'll make, for sure."
Either way, Utah will continue to reap the benefits of having hosted eight Dew Tour stops with such success.
"The good thing the Dew Tour did was it really established us as a major presence in the action and related sports genre," he said, noting the Sports Commission is partnering with others in this area, including Red Bull Energy Drinks.
Robbins said Utah was at a competitive disadvantage because other cities hoping to secure the action sports competition could sign multi-year deals, whereas Utah could only commit to a year-by-year contract.
"There is so much competition nationally," he said. "A lot of cities want to (host a tour stop), but part of this is the ebb and flow of the event world."