Cooper River Bridge Run race director wants expo to stay in N. Charleston

Published: Apr. 7, 2014 at 7:39 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 7, 2014 at 7:45 PM EDT
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MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - The temporary home for the Cooper River Bridge Run Expo will become the permanent home, if the race director has his way.

For the second straight year, the expo was held at the North Charleston Convention Center.

For many years, it was the race before the actual race, with runners and walkers trying to get to downtown Charleston to pick up their bridge run packets.

"You remember the days when it was complete gridlock for hours to get to the Gaillard? That doesn't happen anymore," said race director Julian Smith.

Last year, construction began on a revamped Gaillard Auditorium and the expo was moved to the convention center. The Bridge Run board signed a three year contract to hold the expo there.

Smith says the convention center turned out to be the right move because there's more room for vendors inside and cars outside.

"Having it out at the convention center is more user friendly. People can get in, get out. There's tons of parking, they can get their packets. They can spend the afternoon and then go to their hotels or go out to dinner. Downtown is a dead end and to get 40,000 people in their cars to pickup their packets doesn't work out traffic wise."

Smith doesn't envision the bridge expo ever going back to the Gaillard.

"The race expo has grown so large now. We have almost 200 exhibitors and there's not enough room for it to move back to the Gaillard," Smith explained. "I think the city sees it now, the benefit of having it put there and having the runners come downtown after they pick their packets up."

The contract with the convention center is up after next year's race. Smith says the bridge run's board will then take bids to host the expo. He says don't bet against the convention center.

"Everybody loves being up there."

We reached out to the City of Charleston to find out if it might be interested in bidding for the bridge expo to return to downtown.

In an e mail, city spokeswoman Barbara Vaughn said the mayor will work with the bridge run board of directors when it's time to discuss the 2016 location for the expo.

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