We all know about the grueling training schedule and sheer determination it takes to become an Ironman, but do we understand what it takes for a community to host an Ironman?
When the Town of Huntsville was awarded the sanctioned Ironman event it was contracted to pay a $100,000 host fee to the organizer, Ironman Canada. As well, it was decided that a paid position would be created to help organize the event from the local perspective. A general manager was brought in on contract for $55,000 a year. Another almost $50,000 was spent on sundry items such as shuttles for volunteers, signage, advertising, and garbage collection. All told, the local Ironman budget was set at almost $300,000. Ironman Muskoka 2015 posted a loss of $101,207 for the Town, about two per cent of the overall tax levy.
Ironman General Manager Myke Malone says one of the biggest money problems for the local organizing committee was the lack of government support. The committee had hoped to raise the $300,000 through grants from various levels of government and through sponsorship. In the end they raised only $91,621, according to the Town’s budget document.
Malone says the committee had anticipated raising far more money than it did through partnerships with the Province and the Feds.
We based our expectations on how the government came to the table at Whistler and Mont Tremblant. In both cases, particularly at Tremblant, the Quebec government and the federal government threw a lot of money behind the Ironman when they first started in that community. We didn’t receive any where near the magnitude of support that those two provinces did for their Ironman.
Myke Malone, General Manager, Ironman Muskoka
Malone also says they were late to the table in the grant application process and missed out on some funding for 2015.
“Huntsville signed the contract and took on the Ironman in August of 2014. But with the municipal election and the change of Council our committee really didn’t get started until January of 2015. We really only had eight months to pull it all together so it was a short turnaround time.“
Lack of sponsorship dollars created the deficit, however, according to Malone Ironman Canada did put some real cash back into the community.
They are quite generous. The Volunteer Foundation gives back $25,000 US, which was given to (local) volunteer sport organizations that volunteered at the Ironman. So that was $25,000 US kicked back into our community. Plus, they made a $5000 US donation to the food bank here in Huntsville.
Myke Malone, GM Ironman Muskoka
Ironman Canada would have staged the Huntsville race again
Malone said he believes Ironman Canada would have done the race again if the Town hadn’t asked to be let out of the contract and he wishes the organizing committee had been given the opportunity to finish what they started.
“We went into this with a three year plan. We knew there was a lot of cost in the first year that we would not incur in year two and three so we put out dollars based on a three-year plan. We also knew that it was going to be a struggle to get dollars in year one with a short eight-month window. Building on the success of the first Ironman would have been so much easier. We did anticipate a break even maybe a slight surplus by the end of year three.”
We will be back!
Malone is hopeful that there will be another full Ironman in Huntsville’s future.
“I think the door is still open. Overall, It was a huge success for the community. Moving forward most of our committee is committed to supporting the 70.3 and building that to a higher level and building the profile for triathlon racing here in Muskoka. So hopefully in another year or two we may be in a better position to attract the full Ironman race back to Huntsville. The door is definitely still open.