Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Rick Cleveland: Blues Marathon needs a sponsor.

Jackson's highly acclaimed Mississippi Blues Marathon, which annually draws thousands of participants from all 50 states and several foreign countries, has been running for 10 years.

There might not be an 11th, and that, for my money, would be a shame.

The race, which celebrates Mississippi, Jackson and blues music, is seeking a sponsor or sponsors. Without it, the event will not continue.

“We need corporate support; it's that simple,” said John Noblin, one of the race's co-founders and its director for the past decade.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi, which has been the event's sponsor for all 10 years, has shifted its focus – and its sponsorship dollars – to a statewide “Get Ready to Run” youth running program.

This is an amicable parting.


“Blue Cross & Blue Shield has been a marvelous sponsor and a huge reason why our event has gained national and even international prominence in the running community,” Noblin said.

A Blue Cross & Blue Shield statement posted on the Blues Marathon's website reads, in part: “With our sponsorship of the Mississippi Blues Marathon ending, we would like to thank the many volunteers, musicians and runners who have made this event a world-class running event that showcases the very best of Mississippi – our music, our hospitality and, most of all, our people.”

That doesn't change the fact that Noblin, Mississippi Blues Marathon co-founder Tony Huffman and a host of volunteers need new sponsorship to continue.

Noblin and Huffman, who serves as the event's finance director, seek either one exclusive title sponsor or a group of presenting sponsors.

“We can work it either way, but we cannot make it work without sponsorship,” Noblin said.

The 2018 event is tentatively scheduled January 13.

Over its decade of existence, the Jackson marathon, by far Mississippi's largest, has grown into a unique event offers competition in at marathon (26.2 miles), half marathon (13.1), quarter marathon (6.55) distances and in team relays. Blues musicians play live at the race's beginning and finish and at different spots along the marathon route. In the past, the event has been rated among the Southeast Tourism Society's top 20 events. Runner's World magazine has cited the event as one of the top marathon values in the country.

In 2009 marathon legend Billy Rodgers, the four-time Boston Marathon winner, ran the race. In 2014, the race drew runners from all 50 states for the first time. In 2016, the marathon drew runners not only from all 50 states but from six foreign countries. The 2017 race had to be cancelled because of a rare ice storm in the Jackson area. Entries for the 2017 race nearly capped out at 4,000.

Said Noblin, “We began as a race based in the Fondren area, but have grown into a event that shows off the best of Jackson and a whole lot of Jackson. We really laid out the course based on what we would want to show off to visitors who are in Jackson for one day. We began and end at the Mississippi Museum of Art, go through Jackson State, come back on the parkway through downtown, past the Governor's mansion and the Capitol, out past Millsaps and through Fondren, Woodland Hills and Eastover. It's a beautiful route, although some of the runners would tell you it's a bit hilly.”

Noblin said the Mississippi Development Authority and Visit Jackson have pledged support both financially and marketing-wise.

More is needed or the Mississippi Blues Marathon, which has drawn so many thousands to the capitol city, will cease to exist.

Rick Cleveland is a Jackson-based syndicated columnist. His email address is rcleveland@mississippitoday.org.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

[[Trigger warning]]

I hope the damn thing gets canceled permanently. It seems like every year I have something to do, something to go to, etc. and cannot get to the interstate because a bunch of people are walking or jogging by.

[[Ducks for cover]]

Anonymous said...

What the Marathon needs is a wealthy businessman to step in a sponsor the race. Someone who is local and has access to lots of cash and claims to own a Bentley or a Rolls-Royce. Someone who has so much money that he uses an Escalade as an advertising sign in the parking lot of his establishment.

Anyone know someone like that?

Anonymous said...

@ 9:29,
Hey there is more than enough money in NE Jackson or fondren to have a sponsor. Look at the Sanderson farm classic at cc of jackson. A local Jackson guy sponsored that and it's stronger than ever before.

Anonymous said...

The local corporate donations are already stretched thin. Foundations in the state already have their favorite recipients.

It's a shame that an event that brings in so many visitors can't find a sponsor, but welcome to Mississippi 2017. So many needs, so few funds.

Kingfish said...

They get hit up by everyone. When local business owners sell out, then local charities suffer.

Anonymous said...

What's the budget for this event? Just curious how much is needed over and above entry fees.

Anonymous said...

The Blues Marathon, unfortunately, is not too big to fail.

Anonymous said...

Someone like C Spire or Trustmark will have to step up here. I ran the half in 2014/2015 and the full in 2016. It really is a well-organized event - very personable, unlike the larger marathons I've done out of state. Not to mention, the event is a sizeable economic boost for the city, and Jackson can't afford to lose it.

As for 9:17am, I'm not gonna ding you - if I were in a car not able to move because of it, I'd be upset with it too. The news (and google maps) should do a better job of posting closures and detours. And that's why most other marathons take place on Sunday morning - way less traffic.

Anonymous said...

That's right. They moved the golf tourney to a pitch and putt course and all the local mini golfers applauded!

HOT for Lynn Evans said...

... the event is a sizeable economic boost for the city ...

Link?

Soooo many events -- nearly EVERY event -- shouts about soooo much economic impact to Jackson and, yet, sales tax and special tax collections continue to decline.

The black elephant Convention Center claims economic impact for the day when JPS holds their annual free backpack giveaway at that red ink drowning facility.

Economic impact touts are spin if they don't result in direct revenues to Jackson. Demonstrate a direct increase in sales tax and special tax collections or spare the hype.

Anonymous said...

As a non-runner, I don't keep up with this event and don't know the details, but some of my friends who have participated in this marathon have told me that they do not feel safe where the course goes through certain parts of Jackson. They said they are not participating in it any longer because of safety concerns.

Anonymous said...

Blue Cross Blue Shield needs to worry about keeping my premiums lower, not spending money on sponsorships.

Anonymous said...

The black elephant Convention Center claims economic impact for the day when JPS holds their annual free backpack giveaway at that red ink drowning facility.

I have asked this question before and have not gotten an answer, so I'll pose it again:

Can anyone name one major convention the JCC has hosted in its eight year history? I'm not talking about the MS Department of Education's Quarterly Administrator's Conference or the Hinds County Tree Farmer's Association Bi-monthly Pine Beetle Seminar.

Give me one national firm that has held its convention at the facility. Hell, the even Mississippi Bankers Association goes to Destin!

I'd ask Leland Speed and Jeff Good and Ben Allen and the other civic leaders who demanded this CC and said Jackson needed it to compete. I'd ask those men to respond and give me one - just one - major national (or even regional) event that has chosen Jackson and her Convention Center as their destination.

Oh, yeah! I forgot that until we get a hotel built that won't happen. Isn't that the current excuse? Don't fret, though. The Cutco Knives Summer Conference I is scheduled for one day at the end of June.

Anonymous said...

Donor fatigue is real. There's a non-profit or special cause on every corner asking for help. It is quantity versus quality and a paucity of actual results.

Louis LeFleur said...

I feel your pain, 9:17, since I live in NE Jackson too. The race route is within one block of my house. Then again, it's just one day a year, is over by late morning, we all know the schedule and route, and MOST of us have adapted and are supportive. What I'd like to know is why they have to have it in early/mid January, when even down here there is a good chance of bitter cold or, like this year, ice that cancelled the event? I remember another time a few years back when it was so cold and windy that I even chose to not go deer hunting that day.

Anonymous said...

"and, yet, sales tax and special tax collections continue to decline."

The city's population has decreased by an average of 0.5% per year over from 2000-2015 - almost 1k people per year in that time frame. It's hard to make up that kind of ground through other means.

And I don't have an econmic impact analysis on hand, but John Noblin has claimed a direct and indirect impact of well over $1 million. ( http://northsidesun.com/front-page-slideshow-news/blues-marathon-celebrates-10th-year-1000s-expected-run )

You've got 4,000 some odd participants...with their friends/family...spending money on food, gas, hotels, merchandise, etc... in the city of Jackson during that weekend. It shouldn't be hard to see that benefit.

Anonymous said...

They could break up the cost of the title sponsorship and seek sponsors for every mile (26) - Kind of like golf hole-sponsors. If more are needed, the 1st half (13) could have two sponsors, one half-marathon and one full-marathon sponsor. They could charge more for the starting and finishing mile. All kinds of possibilities.

Anonymous said...

FY11 LOSS <$1.39 MILLION>
FY12 LOSS <$1.15 MILLION>
FY13 LOSS <$1.27 MILLION>
FY14 LOSS <$1.22 MILLION>
FY15 LOSS <$1.15 MILLION>
FY16 LOSS <$1.23 MILLION>

Anonymous said...

HAS anyone contacted Circle King, they have a very large footprint in the state and Metro. Most of the Shell gas stations around are owed by a local chain also. I also wonder why groups haven't looked for sponsorships from the casinos, most of their business comes from the metro.

Anonymous said...

The apparent stalker/poster at 11:18 is more than a little creepy.

Solidarity Economy Wonk said...

Damn @12:54 that sounds just like a co-op!

BabyChok's devotees are actively promoting that he do the same for road paving, i.e. handing out contracts to repave as small as one-mile segments. NO JOKE.

Anonymous said...

"Give me one national firm that has held its convention at the facility. Hell, the even Mississippi Bankers Association goes to Destin!"

So does the MS State Medical Association, every year.

Anonymous said...

Keep drinking that indirect impact koolaid @12:48 PM.

ANYBODY can state their event creates indirect impact and there isn't one metric they can point to that proves the actual delivery.

If you merely walk in the door of the Convention Center for a meaningless meeting they immediately take credit that you, and thus the center, generated $70 of indirect economic impact.

It is all smoke and mirrors.

You've got 4,000 some odd participants...with their friends/family...spending money on food, gas, hotels, merchandise, etc... in the city of Jackson during that weekend.

Naïve beyond words.

Anonymous said...

Mile 12 sponsored by Vic's "Eagle-eye" Grocery Store Parking Lot Security, Inc.

Anonymous said...

"The apparent stalker/poster at 11:18 is more than a little creepy."

Other than that, priss-britches, can you point out anything inaccurate in that post you didn't like? Thought not.

Anonymous said...

IF they do have this non-event next year, please tell the participants NOT to leave their cars running in the I-55 Kroger parking lot. This could result in a carjacking. No charge for this PSA.

Anonymous said...

3:43
There is no "other than that".
How long before you go from cyberstalking to physical stalking?

Anonymous said...

Seems like one of the many healthcare establishments who tout jackson while drooling looking north might step in... what about it St.D?

Anonymous said...

@12:10 PM

AMEN to that!

Anonymous said...

You mean they just run down the road?
On purpose?
They ain't stole nothin' and nobody chasin them?
They can't catch food nor a gal?
Just runnin' and sweatin' ?
Mama says, 'Stupid is as stupid does.'

Anonymous said...

"Donor Fatigue"

LOL. It ain't fatigue at all. It's just being fed up with people with their hands out. Raise your own damned money. Get bike shops across the nation to fund your marathon. Or the manufacturers of Spandex. Or people who sell tennis shoes. And the peddlers of performance enhancing drugs.

It's not the role of Corporate America to provide us with a sandbox and play-day ten times a year.

The real stalker is at 3:43 and 4:18. He creeps around making idiot accusations.

Anonymous said...

"Someone who has so much money that he uses an Escalade as an advertising sign in the parking lot of his establishment."

There's a man on 55 west frontage in Jackson who uses an 18 wheeler trailer as an advertisement for his establishment. That shit would never fly in Madison.

Anonymous said...

2:19 pm The formulas used to gage the economic impact of events are the same used by every State in the Nation.
They have actually proven to be remarkably accurate and are tested by those who actually have expertise in higher mathematics and know what algorithms are and a CE ratio means.
I would also remind everyone that the taxes paid by tourists as they eat, sleep and travel also go to the State not just the city. Some of them even come by car and stop at other towns in the State for gas and food in their travel.
We "cut off our noses to spite our faces" when we begrudge Jackson or Biloxi or any other city dollars generated from successful events.
And, this cancellation is an example of what happens when you bash Jackson so much that sponsors are politically worried about supporting anything that happens in Jackson.
The marathon ran by my neighborhood as well. Unlike, 9:17, I can cope with minor inconveniences for the greater good of my community as I don't feel that world should revolve around me.


Anonymous said...

Why don't they raise the fees to cover the costs? If people see a value, they will pay. If not, they won't. Would love to see JJ expand on the Income Statement for the race. Doubt they are losing over a $1,000,000/year, but might still be a tremendous amount of fat to cut.

Anonymous said...

They have actually proven to be remarkably accurate and are tested by those who actually have expertise in higher mathematics and know what algorithms are and a CE ratio means.

Link?

... this cancellation is an example of what happens when you bash Jackson so much that sponsors are politically worried about supporting anything that happens in Jackson.

Pure unadulterated BS.

Kingfish said...

I don't believe in most of those multipliers either as they are very hard to verify. However, for this particular event, we can see the number of competitors and see where they are from. Those from out of town do have to stay somewhere so there is some economic impact in terms of spending money on food, hotels, and other items.

Anonymous said...

Conclusion that all from out-of-town are staying and spending solely in Jackson is Priceless.

Kingfish said...

I assumed they were staying in hotels in Jackson metro area.

Anonymous said...

Multipliers KF are Keynesian voodoo.

Anonymous said...

9:05,

You're all over this board asking people for links to their claims, and yet, you've provided none to support your own. Please provide a link to support your theory that the marathon provides very little economic impact to the city. If you don't have any sources, then show your work.

Anonymous said...

@9:57, prove what the Marathon crowd has never proved?

Louis LeFleur said...

Not all economic impact multipliers are b/s. The "magic number" 7 that often gets tossed around is definitely b/s, but there are more reasonable numbers that real economists use. There was a good summary of this in, believe it or not, the Mississippi Economic Review and Outlook, June 2007, of which I happen to have a hard copy filed for reference in some of the work I do. Too bad IHL doesn't have an historical archive on their website, only the current edition, or I'd post a link.

Anonymous said...

June 2007: Dr. [Robert H.] Neal has calculated that this labor income multiplier [7 to 1] is inaccurate. In Mississippi, a dollar only turns over between 1.5 to 2.5 times. Actual figures range from a high of 2.72 for the manufacturing sector and a low of 1.35 for the retail trade sector.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with you people??? You hate Jackson because it doesn't have anything nice. Then you hate that Jackson does have something nice, like this Blues Marathon. It is a well-participated and attended event. It has a positive economic impact, and it brings a great deal of positive publicity. If you're not of the running community and don't know what the HELL you're mouthing off about, please just stop.

Anonymous said...

you do get some real fast times on the first third of the course as you run through west jackson.....you don't want to be out there when the gangs wake up from crunking it up friday night.

Anonymous said...

The first rule of running is to be seen running.

Anonymous said...

"Remarkably accurate algorithms"

Gotcha!

But, upon what do you base your claim of accuracy?

Louis LeFleur said...

3:23, no part of the course goes through west Jackson. It starts downtown, goes through Fondren, then to NE Jackson and back.

Whitey sings the Blues said...

The race, which celebrates Mississippi, Jackson and blues music...

We began and end at the Mississippi Museum of Art, go through Jackson State, come back on the parkway through downtown, past the Governor's mansion and the Capitol, out past Millsaps and through Fondren, Woodland Hills and Eastover.

Yeah, there's no better way to celebrate blues music than by routing the race through the richest and whitest parts of town. I remember all those juke joints in Woodland Hills and the old black guys who would sit on their porches and pick guitars up and down Dogwood Drive...

Anonymous said...

7:57. The race goes right by JSU. West Jackson. First leg of the race. I can tell by your response that you never considered running it....

Anonymous said...

One should ask why the course assiduously avoids Jackson's majority population.

Anonymous said...

@11:14am About 10% of the race is on the JSU Campus. The course dips its toe in West Jackson before heading off to Fondren, Eastover, Belhaven, and other brighter, whiter parts of town. Look at the map linked by 11:39am for proof.

This is the same behavior we see from white Jackson liberals who love to talk about the rich diversity of the city while living, working, and shopping in a 5 mile radius of Highland Village. Donna Ladd don't live in no Presidential Hills, yo.

But I get it. I sure as hell wouldn't want participants from 50 states and several foreign countries to run through Lake Hico, Watkins Drive, West Capitol Street, Medgar Evers Blvd., Westland Plaza, and the Zoo. The following year we'd be down to participants from 3 states and Mexico.

Louis LeFleur said...

Hmmmm... ok so I guess my tracking skills aren't what they were back in my flatboat days. The first short leg of the race does skirt JSU, but that is just barely west Jackson by my definition and really more a part of downtown. The route the race takes is through a fairly recently cleaned up area that is safe as is the JSU campus, at least at that time of day and on a weekend. I realize most readers of this blog wouldn't dare go into that part of town, but I have frequently in the past and still do sometimes now. Never felt the least bit threatened.

Anonymous said...

Why does it cost so much? Participants pay a fee. Volunteers operate the water stations. I realize there is a need for some security.

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