Sporting events have the power to engage, unify, and ennoble people. But what happens when destination organizations work in partnership with the “unusual suspects” to take these events to the next level? 

The Maryland Cycling Classic in September 2022 is a remarkable case study on how destination organizations can work with partners to unlock the power of mass-participation sports events to build community and share authentic stories of place. Held in Baltimore, Maryland, the 120.4-mile race was the first big one-day race with Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) points in the United States in several years, and it was a resounding success.

In this podcast, we sit down with:

Al Hutchinson, the CEO of Visit Baltimore, is a friend, peer, and remarkable advocate for using tourism’s potential to empower and elevate places and people. 

Steve Brunner, the president of KOM Sports Marketing, brings his three decades of experience in unlocking the power of sport to engage, unify, and ennoble people.

The Maryland Cycling Classic was more than just a big one-day race with UCI points. It was an opportunity for Brunner, Hutchinson, and a host of talented civic players from Maryland and around the world to bring their A-game to the challenge of creating a new model for using elite sport to build mass participation well beyond the race circuit. They worked with cycling pros, city officials, inner-city schools, and charities.

And they succeeded. 

The Maryland Classic showcased how a destination organization can work in partnership with various stakeholders to create an event that not only generates economic benefits but also builds community and shares the authentic stories of a place. The event has set the bar high for destination organizations seeking meaningful engagement opportunities that benefit everyone involved. 

The Maryland Classic was authentic Baltimore — real, compelling, engaging, and with a great community give-back component. 

Ultimately, the Maryland Cycling Classic proved that when destination organizations collaborate with unexpected civic allies, the result can be an extraordinary event that impacts individuals and communities.

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