Sturgis city lays out plan, timeline for decision on Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

While the official Sturgis Motorcycle Rally website lists the 80th event as Aug. 7-16, most...
While the official Sturgis Motorcycle Rally website lists the 80th event as Aug. 7-16, most people believe it is July 31 through Aug. 9. (MGN)(KOTA)
Published: Apr. 23, 2020 at 5:00 PM CDT
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The Sturgis City Council has prepared a set of protocols that will be used when making the decision to hold or cancel the upcoming Sturgis Motorcycle Rally scheduled for Aug. 7 through Aug. 16. The decision will be under consideration because of the wide-spread COVID-19 pandemic.

Considerations for the Rally in 2020:
  • Before hosting any event, the city of Sturgis must be reasonably ensured that it would not levy an undue burden on the health of residents and health care services.
  • Nearly every corporation in America has greatly reduced travel and trade shows. If the Rally is held, there will likely be a great reduction in the number of major corporate exhibitors along with smaller vendors who also will be hesitant to travel.
  • Beyond the additional revenue for 43% of Sturgis residents, many businesses are heavily dependent upon Rally revenue. If the event is not held, there will be anticipated significant negative impacts up to and including foreclosures to community restaurants, hotels, Main Street gift shops and hospitality industries.
  • Many of the smaller vendors rely upon the Rally for the bulk of their annual profit. If the event is not held, they may not be able to make it to next year.
Metrics for consideration:

The city of Sturgis has determined that it will make a decision on holding the 2020 Sturgis Motorcycle Rally based upon empirical data. This will focus on whether the state is capable of hosting a larger number of visitors and if the areas where visitors usually come from have a high probability of carrying the coronavirus.

This will depend on the resource availability in the state and includes the availability of ICU beds and ventilators.

Additionally, planners will keep a close eye on the percentage of COVID-19 cases and the growth in South Dakota and primary markets. This will include looking at weekly growth in Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska, California, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Washington, Iowa, Kansas and Arizona.


There will be a series of calls to begin gauging the temperature of the industry leaders. This will be combined with the metrics to guide Sturgis City Council's decision regarding whether the Rally should be cancelled.

Week of May 11 to May 15:

  • Contact the Governor, state tourism, state health, Senator Rounds, Senator Thune, Rep. Johnson, Black Hills and Badlands, and Monument Health.
  • Contact hotels and motels, including local owners, in the Southern Hills, Rapid City and Spearfish.
  • Contact significant campground venues, including Pappy Hoel, Buffalo Chip, Glenco, Lamphere, Steel Pony, Kick Stand, Rush No More, Sturgis RV, and Days End.
  • Contact Sturgis businesses, including Main Street businesses, Sturgis Indian, Black Hills Harley Davidson, and Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.
  • Contact sponsors
  • Contact mayors and chambers throughout the Black Hills

Week of May 18 to May 22:

  • Contact the hotel and motel group listed above.
  • Contact the campground group mentioned above.
  • Contact Sturgis Monument Health

Week of May 25 to May 29:

  • Contact mayors and chambers across the Black Hills.
  • Contact businesses in the Black Hills

Week of June 1 to June 5:

  • Contact sponsors
  • Contact state and federal government groups mentioned above.

June 8:

  • Sturgis City Council to hold a special council meeting for discussion only.

June 15:

  • Regular Sturgis City Council meeting to vote if the Sturgis Mororcycle Rally is cancelled. This will be seven and a half weeks before the start of the Rally.