Its been announced, its no longer a secret, King William Road will host a Tour Down Under (TDU) “Stage Start”. In 2015 Unley Council will host Stage 2 in this increasingly popular, family friendly, community building event.
There are two events. The first event is the Gourmet Gala and the second is the race start. The Gourmet Gala occurs at night and will have free fashion parades, live music, cooking demonstrations, kids areas, street entertainers and some of SA’s best wine and food for sale from stalls along the road. The race start occurs the following morning and this is where some of the world’s elite cyclists get up close to cycling enthusiasts, mums and dads, kids and grandparents before they ride off along a 150km leg of the week long event.
The Gourmet Gala and race start are a winning combination but I can’t stop wondering, is there a need to change the way Unley gets involved in the event?
2015 will be the 17th year of the TDU and Unley’s involvement spans all bar two. Unley’s involvement has always placed King William Road center stage with tens of thousands coming to enjoy the classy Unley Gourmet Gala at night and thousands attending the Race start the next morning. Every year it has been King William Road and there has been a demonstrated financial reinvestment from consumers of almost three quarters of a million dollars into the shops as a result of the race start.
In many ways King William Road is the ideal location. The road itself is not owned by Unley Council, unlike Unley, Goodwood, Fullerton or Glen Osmond Roads which are State controlled and owned.
This is important because a road owned by Council is far easier to close than one owned by the state.
The volume of traffic on King William Road is also about half that of those state owned roads which means that road closures affect fewer commuters. The diverted traffic from a state owned road would affect the region where as King William Road’s closure affects the neighbourhoods of Unley and Mitcham.
I think it is right for Councils to invest in festivities that bring the community together and I think the Gourmet Gala is the City of Unley’s annual festivity but lets look at the $200,000 dollar price tag that goes with it. It that the right level of funding for this event? This is Council’s only major community festival and not only does it cost money to run but it also generates economic activity for the local economy.
Would some of the businesses in Unley prefer to see that economic activity benefiting their shops on Unley, Goodwood, Fullerton or Glen Osmond Road?
Our two events give the City of Unley wonderful exposure to international tourists who attend the Gourmet Gala and the race start. The TV coverage is shown across Australia and research shows that these events help to make shoppers from nearby areas choose to visit King William Road in the months after the event.
I’m open to hearing people’s ideas on this topic. On this topic I’ve heard people say “don’t touch it”! I’ve heard others also talk about keeping the Gourmet Gala on King William Road but moving the race start to the Northern end of Unley Road which has developed into a dinning destination; to the front of the Town Hall on Unley Road; to Glen Osmond Road and the the central part of Goodwood Road.
What do you think? Should Unley play around with a known and proven winning formula or should there be change? What change and why? I’d love to know what you think.
In the mean time, very much looking forward to seeing you on King William Road for the Gormet Gala on Tuesday January 20th with the race start the following Wednesday the 21st at 11am (get there by 10am).
I think Unley is the perfect location and has the demographic to make it a key player in the Tour Down Under into the future.
rel=author Lachlan Clyne