Extra costs for safety at Pittsburgh Marathon won't hamper organizers
Hiring extra police and sending more bomb dogs to protect the Pittsburgh marathon won't bankrupt the city or the nonprofit that runs the race, officials insisted on Thursday.
“We're going to figure it out and partner like we always have to make this a wonderful event,” Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said during a rare public appearance to discuss increased security at the May 5 event in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Ravenstahl, public safety officials and race organizers outlined new precautions that an estimated 100,000 runners and spectators will encounter during the race, but declined to provide many details and wouldn't discuss the cost — or who will pay for it.
“We'll figure out the financing later,” Public Safety Director Mike Huss said.
He said the city will pursue reimbursement, possibly from the federal government, and that officials haven't ruled out seeking help from the National Guard.
City Controller Michael Lamb said he expects the city to at least temporarily cover whatever increased costs the extra security brings, and that's OK.
“We have an event that's (next) week. We need to make plans for that and do what we have to do to keep people safe,” said Lamb, the city's chief financial watchdog, who was not involved in the news conference or discussions about costs.
“We want people to come in for this,” he said. “It's important for us from a community and economic standpoint.”
The marathon said it generated an estimated $8.4 million in spending in the region last year, according to figures from VisitPittsburgh.
Both the city and marathon appear to have the money to cover the costs.
Finance Director Scott Kunka told City Council this week that the city had an estimated $15 million budget surplus from 2012.
Race director Patrice Matamoros called Pittsburgh Three Rivers Marathon Inc. a “financially stable nonprofit organization” and said organizers were trying to find a “balance of financial support” to cover event costs.
Organizers did not answer questions after the news conference about the marathon's finances. The most recent tax forms available for the nonprofit show that in 2010 it collected more than $1.5 million from race registrations and $900,000 in contributions and grants, and had $500,000 left over.
The 27,000 runners in this year's race paid between $65 and $120 each, depending on which race they're in and when they signed up.
Before the April 15 bombings in Boston that killed three people and injured more than 250, organizers said they expected to pay $160,000 to hire about 500 police officers from the city and other agencies, plus private guards, for race weekend, which includes a 5K race and kids' run on May 4.
Huss and Matamoros said more officers, private guards and bomb-sniffing dogs will be on hand — securing the route, directing traffic and searching bags — but would not estimate how many.
“There will be some very visible security things you'll see,” said Huss, who said the plan is changing day by day. “And there will be many invisible security things in place that you will not see.”
City police canceled regularly scheduled days off for all officers, Acting Assistant Chief Tom Stangrecki said. He could not describe how the city will compensate officers or how much that will cost.
Acting EMS Chief Mark Bocian said the marathon always has 26 extra ambulances from around the region and volunteer doctors from UPMC.
“We'll have additional medical assets that we won't discuss,” said Bocian, who noted he has had daily conversations with counterparts in Boston since the bombings.
About 35 Pittsburgh paramedics wearing Boston EMS hats will work the marathon but collect no pay for it, said Anthony Weinmann, president of their union. Money the marathon would have paid the city for them instead will go to One Fund Boston, a charity established for victims of the bombings.
Medical tents will have more tourniquets than usual, a lesson from Boston where people with traumatic injuries to arms and legs were treated.
Officials also will look at moving trash cans and newspaper boxes from the race routes.
Staff writer Bob Bauder contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- No. 11 Purdue presents tall order for Pitt
- Increasing player salaries pinch financial flexibility of Pirates
- Mt. Lebanon puts temporary halt on deer kill
- Penguins’ reshuffled top line of Crosby, Dupuis, Kunitz looks familiar
- Founder of Z&M Cycle Sales in Hempfield killed in Florida motorcycle crash
- Starkey: Tomlin lived in his fears
- Franklin Regional girls respond quickly to new coach
- Crop of young players bodes well for Springdale boys basketball team
- Slain St. Clair officer walked into ‘worst nightmare’ for police
- Steelers receiver Wheaton takes advantage of opportunity in breakout game
- Woodland Hills’ plan starts to come together