The Cooper River Bridge Run's two-day expo will remain at Gaillard Auditorium in 2010, despite an earlier recommendation from the event staff to move it to the Charleston Area Convention Center in North Charleston.
Two weeks after the Bridge Run executive board split 3-3 on the move and drew strong reaction from Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, who wanted to keep the expo downtown, the board voted 6-1 Wednesday to keep it at Gaillard.
The lone dissenter was Charleston Running Club President Larry Schrecker.
Riley attended the board meeting to reiterate his reasons for wanting to retain the expo, namely that the event should be held where the race ends and that it provides people with an opportunity to walk to the expo and/or venture on foot downtown afterwards. He also promised two-hour parking vouchers for expo-goers and a renewed commitment to address traffic problems on the peninsula on the Thursday and Friday before the race.
Next year's 33rd annual Bridge Run will be March 27. The expo will be held March 25 and 26.
Schrecker noted the Bridge Run's mission statement calls the event a "world class footrace," but he said that the expo, which suffers from cramped conditions and awkward layout, is "not on par with a world class race." He added that he sees no way to fix the traffic gridlock that the peninsula suffers during the expo and that it takes away from experience of participants, particularly those who are coming from out of town and "hit a wall of traffic" after getting off Interstate 26.
Riley responded, "If you (the Bridge Run) don't have as good an expo as another race, you're missing the point" and having the expo at the convention center would make it "100 percent auto-centric," requiring everyone to drive to the event.
Bridge Run board member Paul Wieters, a representative for Charleston, handed out aerial maps showing all the amenities within a 900 feet of Gaillard versus that of the convention center.
Despite making the decision for 2010, the Bridge Run staff and board may have to look for a new expo site in 2011 if Charleston raises enough money to start a major renovation of Gaillard as currently proposed. If Gaillard is closed, Riley promised that he and the city staff will work to help the Bridge Run find a suitable location to keep the expo on the peninsula.
Bridge Run Executive Director Julian Smith shot down Riley's previous, preliminary suggestion of using the Carolina First Arena at the College of Charleston because of limited access for tractor-trailers.