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Sea Otter notches another record year

Published April 24, 2018
Sea Otter rearranged spaces in Laguna Seca’s lake bed to make room for additional exhibitors this year.

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — Preliminary figures from organizers of the Sea Otter Classic show that the festival brought in a record 74,000 attendees, 8,500 campers and 9,800 athletes over four days of racing, a busy industry expo, bike demos, gran fondos, cycling tours and other associated events.

Friday and Saturday were exceptionally busy at Laguna Seca Raceway, according to Sea Otter president and CEO Frank Yohannan. 

“One of the ways we gauge attendance on Saturday is how much and how quickly we fill up our parking, and it filled up very quickly and exceeded any parking we’ve ever done in the past,” he said.

Sea Otter sold out of expo space this year (its 28th edition), with more than 500 exhibitors representing some 900 brands, up about 15 percent from last year. Over the past five years, exhibitor count has grown a compounded 45 to 47 percent, Yohannan said. 

This year’s strong expo registration presented challenges for organizers to accommodate all the exhibitors in the existing venue.

“We got real creative how we use the space in front of the beer garden, and we added more space on the perimeter of the lake-bed area where usually there would be a grass strip. We got some additional booths located in there. We removed the bouncy houses that used to be in the center of the grass pods and dropped more exhibitors in there. So collectively, when we added some more spots around everywhere it gave us room to grow,” Yohannan said.

Based on conversations with current and prospective exhibitors at this year’s event, Yohannan expects the expo to grow to 550 or more exhibitors in 2019, necessitating additional expo space. 

“Where we’re going to be able to accommodate additional exhibitors is in areas that Monterey County is improving within the facility. The county is going in over the next couple weeks and stripping out damaged parking areas, getting rid of some trees, opening up a lot of the lake bed and paving it in and putting in new infrastructure for water and power. That’s going to give us much more pavement space for exhibitors. So I’m very optimistic about the growth,” he said. 

For more on Sea Otter, including plans for expo expansion, see the upcoming May 15 print edition of Bicycle Retailer.

Topics associated with this article: Sea Otter Classic

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