City sports and tourism officials said Friday they want to host an Ironman triathlon and are scrambling to finalize a bid by next month.
Ben VanCamp, executive director the Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission, told the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority on Friday that he was putting together a bid for a full Ironman event to be held in September 2014. He asked the TDA for financial support and said he would be asking for other in-kind support and taxpayer money from officials from the city, Buncombe County, Henderson County and Lake Lure, which would host the swimming leg of the triathlon.
Buncombe TDA officials wholeheartedly supported the idea and voted to give VanCamp $75,000 for the project. The TDA also pledged another $75,000 to match potential funding from Asheville and Buncombe County governments.
The event would bring in 2,500 participants, generate 10,000 to 12,000 hotel room nights and produce a $15 million economic impact, VanCamp said. In return, the World Triathlon Corp. is asking for a $15 rebate on hotel rooms, 400 complimentary hotel rooms and a venue for a banquet and exposition, he said. The event would also require the support of 100 emergency workers, 200 police officers and a traffic-control plan to handle road closures.
The target date for the event is Labor Day weekend, VanCamp said. The proposed route would begin with a swim in Lake Lure, a grueling bike ride to Asheville and a run through Asheville’s downtown and River Arts District, he said.
The Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Nine official Ironman triathlons are held in the U.S. each year, including Ironman Kona in Hawaii, site of the Ironman World Championship. The closest Ironman to Asheville is in Louisville, Ky., held in August.