SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The annual Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon will not return to the Hostess City in 2022, the city of Savannah announced Monday.
The status of the 2023 race remains up in the air.
Officials said the city’s three-year contract with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series just ended, and city leaders want to take some time to evaluate the cost of the marathon and its impact on Savannah.
“It’s not a cancellation, we’re just not renewing the contract this year,” said Mayor Van Johnson in his weekly press conference Tuesday.
After being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by a restructured event in 2021 — approved just weeks prior and toned down due to heavy rain — this year’s event had hoped to bounce back, bringing some normalcy along with it.
The race weekends have averaged around 15,000 to 16,000 participants each year, according to Visit Savannah. It also estimated that the race brought between $15 to $20M in spending each year.
Last year’s race started on Bay Street, weaving through the streets of Savannah and ended at historic Forsyth Park. It also required runners to be either fully vaccinated or report a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of running.
The race includes a marathon, half marathon, half marathon relay, 5K, 1-mile and races for kids.
Johnson said the city pays $25,000 to host the event and bears the entire cost of police, sanitation, traffic and other services.
“And we have yet really to determine what the hard cost for us hosting the event really is,” he continued.
The mayor said now is the time to consider the impacts the race has on local businesses and neighborhoods. He added that this isn’t a new conversation and for all large-scale events, the city is going to evaluate the costs and benefits.
“Just because we’ve always done it is not necessarily a reason to do it,” Johnson said, adding, “We have to make sure that it’s still meeting the needs of our entire community, including our residents.”
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