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Some Give Mixed Reviews to ‘Electric City Classic’ Cycle Racing

SCRANTON, Pa. -- This past weekend, downtown Scranton transformed into a high-speed cycling course for the first Electric City Classic, an event organizers are hoping to make a tradition.

But as far as its effect on the downtown, businesses had mixed reviews.

Wyoming Avenue was part of the course for the inaugural Electric City Classic. Scranton Tomorrow, the organization that planned the event, aims to make Scranton a cycling destination.

Downtown business owners we talked to had conflicting feelings on that and a lot had to do with their distance from the race route.

On Saturday, the streets of downtown Scranton saw cyclists zooming on a competitive closed course -- a kind of spectator sport the city hasn't seen before but proved to be a boost for many downtown businesses.

"Our patio was booked, jam-packed, from 11:30 in the afternoon to 11:00 at night," said Trish Dickert-Nieves of Terra Preta Prime. "It was just people one after the other, spectators, people participating in the race, families coming out to look at the racers, so it was fun."

Terra Preta Prime on Courthouse Square reported a great weekend of business offering special menu items for people in town for the Electric City Classic.

"As somebody who likes to have healthier options on our lunch and dinner menu, it's nice to have events that are in downtown that focus on athletes. Similar to the Steamtown Marathon, we now have the Electric City Classic. So, I hope that this does continue."

We spoke to some business owners who are located on the race route. They told us they had one of their worst weekends of business yet. A weekend that's typically pretty busy because of the start of the University of Scranton's semester, was anything but for them.

The Blue Bee Bistro on Linden Street decided to avoid that possibility altogether.

"We used to prep for races, get all excited, buy extra food and then nobody ever came in and it wasn't even worth it. We kind of made the decision not to open this weekend based on the history we've had with all the races," said Jenna Illing.

Illing says special events in downtown Scranton like the Electric City Classic can be a "Catch 22." While the streets are packed, from what she's seen, people tend not to spend money at local businesses.

"It's good for Scranton, for publicity, to get people who don't usually come to Scranton here, but not necessarily for restaurants and businesses," Illing said.

Scranton Tomorrow they told us they heard more positive reports from businesses than negatives, but they plan to make the race an annual event and say they'll work with downtown businesses to help make the event more mutually beneficial in the future.

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