Red Bull Crashed Ice, the extreme skate race that has become an annual winter spectacle in St. Paul, cost the city somewhere north of $118,000 this year for police, fire, parks and public works services.
But Red Bull reimbursed the city for every public dime spent, short of the time of some city staffers such as Joe Spencer, Mayor Chris Coleman’s arts and culture adviser.
“Red Bull is great because they pay all their bills,” Spencer said Tuesday.
About 140,000 people are thought to have attended this year’s event, which took place on a steep and bumpy track that started at the Cathedral of St. Paul and twisted down the hill leading to downtown.
One of the sponsors was the city’s convention bureau, Visit St. Paul, which paid Red Bull an estimated $140,000 – about twice as much as the year before, said President and CEO Terry Mattson.
The hike was due in part, Mattson said, to this year’s Crashed Ice Village outside the Xcel Energy Center, which offered food, beverages, music and a jumbo screen to visitors and spectators.
“The cost of doing business has increased because the sport has grown and evolved,” he said.
The city annually contributes a portion of the revenue from its lodging tax to the convention bureau, an amount estimated this year at between $1.7 million and $1.8 million.
The total estimated economic impact of all events that weekend – which included Winter Carnival festivities -- was $20 million, of which Mattson said $12 million to $15 million could be attributed to Crashed Ice.
Spencer said the city’s costs for the event were split among police, $73,000 for traffic management and crowd control; fire, $23,000 for paramedics; parks and recreation, $13,600 for event staff and turf repair; and public works, $8,000 for road closures, lighting and clean up.
There’s no formal competition among cities to host the event and St. Paul didn’t submit a bid, Mattson said. On the other hand, the city enjoys no assurance from one year to the next that Red Bull will return to St. Paul, Spencer said.
But they clearly like the city, which hosted its first Crashed Ice event in 2012.
“It’s unusual for Red Bull to come back for repeat engagements, and each year they caution us that they [typically] don’t come back,” Spencer said. “And yet they’ve also said this is the most successful Crashed Ice event anywhere. So it’s our hope they’ll come back.”
Red Bull isn’t done yet with St. Paul this winter. The company, in partnership with Become Co., plans to shoot a daredevil snowmobile sequence in downtown St. Paul for online viewing in early March.
According to a proposed sound level variance going before the City Council on Feb. 18, a “specialized snowmobile” will race up Robert Street from 12th Street to University Avenue, where it will jump the concrete overlook in Cass Gilbert Park east of the State Capitol. Levi LaVallee, an award-winning snowmobile driver from Longville, Minn., will do the honors.
This one isn’t a spectator event, Spencer said. But it will set the stage for millions of online views of the city.
“If it comes together, it’s a great opportunity to showcase St. Paul,” he said.