The future is unclear for the Philadelphia International Cycling Classic, the professional bike race known for its grueling climb up the Manayunk Wall.
Citing insurmountable cost obstacles, city officials announced on Friday that the race was called off for this year.
"Regrettably, even after extensive fund-raising efforts, we were not able to find enough sponsors interested in covering the $1 million cost of the bike race to host it this year," said Jazelle Jones, deputy managing director for the Office of Special Events.
The race has been one of the city's signature events, on par with the Broad Street Run and the Dad Vail Regatta. Held in June, the race has attracted thousands of fans who cheer along the 12.3-mile circuit that winds through Manayunk, East Falls, Fairmount Park, and Kelly Drive.
It was the second time in four years that a version of the race has been canceled. Its prior incarnation, the Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, also could not afford to pay the city for police and other services. After 28 years of world-class racing, it was scrapped. With the help of Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Brady, it was replaced with the scaled-down classic.
Reaction to the news on Friday was mixed.
Some people expressed resignation that another Philadelphia institution was ending. Others said good riddance to a long-declining event that had turned into an excuse for public intoxication.
And others were angry that the city was not doing more to keep it going.
"The decision did not come easy for the City of Philadelphia," race director Robin Morton of g4 Productions said Friday in the statement. "We've been moving forward with plans for the race and changes to the course for months. We are keeping our hopes high for [the race] to return next year."
City spokeswoman Ajeenah Amir said the city had not ruled out pursuing a return for 2018.
Mayor Kenney could not be reached for comment Friday night.
The funding issues are due to mounting security costs, according to the Manayunk Development Corp. Like others connected to the event, Jane Lipton, executive director of the business-development nonprofit, expressed hope that the race would return.
"The city did everything it could to try to salvage the race for this year, but there just wasn't enough money available to cover the rising event costs as a result of heightened security demands," she said in a statement. Lipton added that the race would need more support from corporations, foundations, and individuals to return.
"None of us want to lose yet another wonderful Philadelphia tradition like the bike race, but government can't be solely responsible for footing the bill," she said.
The Managing Director's Office also said it planned to work with "the East Falls, Roxborough and Manayunk commercial corridors on other events."
The championship was started in 1985 as a 156-mile race including the Manayunk Wall, the brutal half-mile climb up Levering Street and Lyceum Avenue. It was sponsored by CoreStates, a bank that was the title sponsor for 20 years.
Last year, the men's race was nine laps for a total of 110.7 miles. The women's race was six laps for 73.8 miles.
The sponsorship ended in 2005, but then-Gov. Ed Rendell persuaded another bank to fill the breach.
In 2012, TD Bank ended a four-year deal to sponsor the race, which was losing money and owed the city more than $300,000.
Brady, who has been instrumental in preserving the Dad Vail Regatta and the Mummers Parade, organized a group to come to the rescue with a smaller, less expensive race.
"It had a sense of history," said Richard Adler, a sports entrepreneur who was involved in the Brady group and produced the race in 2013 and 2014. "People didn't want to see it go away."
Brady, who was unavailable for comment Friday night, told Philadelphia Magazine that he would try again to get the race back on the calendar this year.
The decision to call it off appeared to be recent. Posts on the race's social media feeds as recently as last week indicated that the 2017 event was still on.