Virtual Sea Gull Century is “another hit” to economy, Salisbury officials

SALISBURY, Md. – For the first time in nearly three decades, the 2020 Sea Gull Century is going virtual. The announcement was made on Monday but already local officials are concerned about how yet another large event cancelation may impact businesses.

“Between folks staying in hotels, B&Bs, to restaurants, to retail. It’s going to be another hit,” says Bill Chambers with the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce.

Salisbury area officials are reacting to the news that the 32nd Sea Gull Century is being hosted virtually. “The hotels, restaurants and retail establishments that really depended on those big events outside of the busy summer season lost those now,” says Chambers.

The most recent findings by BEACON show the 2019 event created a direct economic impact of $2.6 million. It also drew 4,600 participants from countless states, which organizers say would be difficult to manage given the realities of COVID-19.

“That would just take tremendous resources for the five rest stops to be what it needs to be, safety, cleanliness wise for the wellbeing of all the cyclists and our volunteers,” says Amy Waters, the coordinator for Sea Gull Century.

Organizers say they’re still trying to support local businesses like t-shirt printers for event gear because they know this won’t be easy on anyone. They’re also working on some unique virtual aspects including a social media component where participants can share why they’re riding.

“They might be riding to keep the fitness training going. They might be riding because they’ve ridden in ten centuries before so they want to keep their streak alive. Others might be riding in memory or in honor of someone,” says Waters.

Officials say this decision wasn’t easy but they’re working to make the 2020 event just as meaningful and successful as previous years.

Because of the lower costs to run a virtual event the registration fee is half of what it normally is 35 dollars this year. Most of the money generated will go to support the scholarships created by this event.
Organizers say the 2021 event will be back in person at Salisbury University but they’ll likely continue offering a virtual option in the future.

Categories: Local News, Maryland