Rally economic impact could match main events

Published on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 22:29 - Written by Kelly Gooch, kgooch@tylerpaper.com


When the Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally comes to Tyler next year, its economic impact could be close to what the city experienced with some other major events, according to data from the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The data shows that the 2012 Rose Season — the entire month of October — brought in $2.4 million, while the 2013 Azalea and Spring Flower Trail — a three-week long event — brought in $2.8 million. The rally — a four-day event — is projected to bring in $2.5 million.

“The exciting part of that is that those riders come into town. They spend their money in lots of different ways. They’re eating in our restaurants, they’re staying in our hotels, they’re also taking part of our retail and they’re also visiting the (Lone Star Harley-Davidson) dealership here,” said Shari Rickman, general manager and vice president for the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Thousands of motorcycle riders are expected to descend on Tyler for the 2015 Texas State H.O.G. Rally.

Tyler has won the bid for the rally after beating out Frisco to host the event next year.

Ms. Rickman and Lone Star Harley-Davidson Owner Bennie Latch, among other representatives, were in Abilene last month and won the bid, according to a previous news release. The rally is scheduled for May 14 to 17, 2015, with convention sites at Harvey Convention Center, 2000 W. Front St., and Lone Star Harley-Davidson, 1211 S. SE Loop 323.

“It was quite the competition. ... So we’re thrilled and excited about that,” Ms. Rickman said Wednesday during a news conference.

The last time the rally came to Tyler was in 2003.

That year, about 2,000 Harley motorcycle riders came to Tyler, and a bigger crowd is anticipated next year, Ms. Rickman said. She said about 2,500 riders are expected next year, although it could go upward of 3,000 riders.

“It appears to be so much fun. It’s got a little edge to it …” she said of the rally event. “From the young kids up through the older people in town, they really think that it’s really intriguing that you put that many motorcycles on the road, and they all come to rally and they all have a great time and they have a parade.”

Former Mayor Barbara Bass will serve as parade grand marshal in 2015, Ms. Latch announced.

Rally Coordinator Jill Womack said the 2003 rally in Tyler was successful, and there was positive feedback not only from HOG members but also from residents.

“I think a lot of the citizens were a little apprehensive at first of HOG members coming to Tyler, but by the time they left they wrote into the paper just how wonderfully friendly everyone was, how hospitable the people of Tyler were to our members,” Ms. Womack said.

Therefore, she said, she believes Tyler won the bid to bring the rally here because of residents and how friendly they were last time around.

She said she now asks that residents once again have open arms when the motorcycle riders come.

“They will be so excited to come back to Tyler again in May. ... So we just hope to have a wonderful event like we did last time,” Ms. Womack said.

Ms. Latch added, “We had in 2003 a lot of people. We made history for the impact of economics for everyone in Northeast Texas, and I hope that we can do that again.”