El Tour De Tucson Expo returns to Tucson Convention Center for the first time since pandemic
40th Anniversary of cycling event expected to bring in over 10,000 participants.
TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The 40th annual El Tour De Tucson is just under 48 hours away, but festivities have already kicked off Thursday with the start of the El Tour De Tucson expo. The expo returned to the Tucson Convention Center for the first time in four years.
“It’s the centerpiece of just a great opportunity to show off the TCC and our finish line happens to be on Mission Street. So [riders] finish their ride, turn right into the TCC for food, drink, entertainment all that under the roof,” Executive Director of El Tour De Tucson TJ Juskiewicz said.
The return to the building has many long-time racers reminiscing on previous racers while also gearing up for the journey taking place on Saturday.
“It’s exciting. It makes you nervous. It makes you [realize] that it’s almost here and everything that they have here as well,” Tucson resident Veronica Varedes said.
Once again, the Tucson Convention Center has become the focal point of a transformation downtown, as the finish line for the race is right around the corner.
“For the city, I love it. It’s cool seeing how big [and] busy downtown gets. I think it’s going to be nice having all the [race festivities] start here and end here,” Tucson native Michael Kinsey said.
The return to the larger space also gave many the opportunity to look at more local businesses with the nearly 40 booths in the main center.
“There are so many fun jerseys. We want to buy all new things. New type of helmets, socks, everything,” Tucson resident Erica Gamas said.
The expo also shows off over 70 nonprofits, who say the expo is crucial to their successful charity rides on Saturday.
“It’s an opportunity to get that message out there to remind [people] to do everything you can to protect yourself out there on the road,” Executive Director of ‘Look, Save A Life’ Brendan Lyons said.
Lyons and his non-profit say the bigger space has drawn more people, increasing projected donations for his ride on Saturday. He says they are expecting around $10,000 in donations.
“It’s a huge draw. It’s a huge economic draw for cyclists to come. I just spoke to a cyclist from Ireland and another one from the United Kingdom,” Lyons said.
The 40th anniversary is also expected to bring in record numbers this weekend with nearly 10,000 cyclists and many more participating in the first-ever run/walk 5k.
The first glimpse of those numbers was revealed Thursday at the Tucson Convention Center.
“We’re talking a tremendous economic impact because most people who come in for El Tour De Tucson don’t just stay for one day. They’re gonna stay for an entire weekend,” Juskiewicz said.
The expo reopens Friday at noon and goes until 9 p.m.
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