Sea Gull Century is a $7 million local economic machine

The math seems deceptively simple: 7,000 bicyclists plus 100 miles equals a $7 million annual economic impact.

According to a new study from the Business, Economic and Community Outreach Network (BEACON) at Salisbury University, that $7 million figure is what SU’s annual Sea Gull Century bike ride brings to the community each year. That includes direct, indirect and induced spending.

Founded in 1989, the event is one of the largest and oldest rides of its kind on the East Coast, drawing cyclists from across the United States and beyond. It is Wicomico County’s largest annual one-day tourism event.

“We’ve long known about Sea Gull Century’s benefit to the community between funds raised for scholarships, donations to area civic groups (including those providing volunteers for the event), and some non-profit organizations such as Women Supporting Women and the Kennedy Krieger Institute that use the Century as an avenue to raise money,” said Amy Waters, SU director of donor relations and events. “It’s exciting to learn that we also are impacting the local economy by almost $7 million each year.”

According to the study, approximately 85 percent of cyclists from the past three years traveled 100 miles or more to attend the Century. Many had at least one guest with them, staying an average of two nights in the area and spending locally for food, fuel and other necessities during that time.

This led to a direct impact of some $4.4 million spent at local businesses. An additional $1.1 estimated indirect impact took into account spending by these businesses to accommodate the number of customers brought in by the ride, according to the study. BEACON also estimated a $1.4 million “induced effect” of money spent by employees of businesses who benefited from Century cyclists.

By comparison, the last study of the Sea Gull Century, in 2003, showed an annual economic impact of $2.5 million. The increase is attributed to marketing and promotions gains, as well as an uptick in spending and inflation.

In the most recent study, BEACON used the IMPLAN (Impact Analysis for Planning) economic impact assessment software system originally developed by the University of Minnesota and U.S. Forest Service.  The IMPLAN model includes all economic effects when calculating total output/employment.

During the Sea Gull Century, riders have the option of riding 100 miles to Assateague Island or 100 kilometers through Princess Anne, MD, with all routes beginning at SU. Proceeds benefit student scholarships and other University needs supported by the Salisbury University Foundation, Inc.

This year’s Sea Gull Century is Saturday, October 14. For more information call 410-548-2772 or visit the Century website at

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