Proposal for Ironman return

A proposal paving the way for the return of the Ironman triathlon to Penticton will be presented to city council next week.

City staff have negotiated a preliminary five-year proposal with Ironman Canada that would see the full-length edition of the race hosted in Penticton starting in 2020 at an annual cost to taxpayers of $299,000 in cash and $111,000 in-kind support.

The City of Penticton dumped Ironman in 2012 after a disagreement with organizers over economics. Since then, MB Events has organized a triathlon in Penticton first under the Challenge banner and now Super League, for which the city offered $110,000 of in-kind support. Ironman has since been taking place in Whistler.

In a report to council, director of recreation Bregje Kozak said they have been in closed-door discussions with Ironman for the past few months.

Ironman's return requires $663,000 in host-city contributions, but is being offset by private sector contributions from groups including the Lakeside Resort, Robin, Jessica and Lee Agur, Travel Penticton, Valley First, Greyback Construction, Wildstone Construction, Gateway Casinos and Great Estates Okanagan.

“The recommendations and supporting information that staff will present to council on May 7 represents several months of due diligence.  With the current five-year triathlon agreement set to expire in 2019, staff took steps earlier this year to begin the process of finding a successor event beginning in 2020,” said Kozak, adding the proposal will see Penticton “resume its historic role” as an Ironman host city.

While in negotiations with Ironman, the city also issued an expression of interest for other triathlon race organizers and received three applications that will also be presented to council. In 2004, it was estimated Ironman’s Penticton economic impact was in the range of $12.5M.

The proposal expects 2,600 athletes in the first year.

Council will debate the proposal Tuesday.

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