Planners of two large groups that were scheduled to meet in Springfield announced this week they are canceling due to the pandemic.

The Gold Wing Road Riders Assoc. canceled its Wing Ding 42, an annual motorcycle rally that was scheduled to be in Springfield June 30-July 4 and the National Street Road Assoc. Mid-America Street Rod Nationals that was scheduled for May 22-24 also was canceled. 

The GWRRA  is considering rebooking the Wing Ding in Springfield in 2021 or 2022. The event was expected to bring more than 8,000 visitors to the city who would have spent about $2 million while here. The last time the Wing Ding was in Springfield was in 1999 when a record number of people attended, and that July remains one of the top months for hotel bookings in the city.

"We truly appreciate the help and support from the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau and the City of Springfield, in what truly was a difficult decision for us to make,” said GWRRA president Abel Gallardo. “We look forward to the possibility of bringing the event back to Springfield in the next year or two."

The street rod event, which has been taking place in Springfield for more than 25 years and is recognized as one of the city’s signature events was expected to bring in about 6,000 people who would have spent about $1.1 million in the city. Planners are hoping to rebook for later this year. The event is expected to return to Springfield in 2021 and 2022.

Since mid-March, more than 40 events that were booked by the Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Springfield Sports Commission were canceled because of the pandemic. More than 115,000 people were expected to attend those events that would have generated more than 40,000 room nights at area hotels. The loss to the local economy is estimated to be more than $26 million and that doesn’t include groups booked directly by hotels that also have canceled. More than $2.1 million in state and local tax revenue also was lost.

“The impact on the economy is tremendous,” said Tracy Kimberlin, president/CEO of the CVB, which manages the Springfield Sports Commission. “Not only are hotels affected but restaurants, attractions, meeting venues, retailers and many other businesses have lost income.”

The CVB and Sports Commission are working with event planners in an effort to get canceled group business rebooked at future dates. Many group events are booked years in advance and rebooking can be a challenge.

The CVB and Sports Commission are nonprofit organizations working hand-in-hand to improve the local economy through growth in travel and tourism.