For the past couple of months, Asheville tourism officials and Asheville Buncombe Regional Sports Commission has been hard at work on a bid to lure the prestigious and popular Ironman to hold a competition here in Western North Carolina. The groups sought several hundred thousands dollars, much of it in taxpayers’ money, for the bid.
Back in March, when local officials said they were going for the Ironman, they said Ironman expected to make a decision on which city it would pick by July. At Wednesday’s Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority meeting, officials expressed anxious anticipation. Here’s what I took from the ensuing discussion: first, that Ironman was taking a little longer because they were rethinking their entire strategy for moving a full Ironman into the Southeast; and second, that while Asheville was one of three cities still in the running, the geography and logistics posed some issues for Ironman.
The event would start with the swim event at Lake Lure, then move to the bike and run, which would end in Asheville. That means getting competitors and supporters up extra early for a bus ride over to Lake Lure. Ironman officials also expressed some concerns about how difficult a route would be through the steep topography between Lake Lure and Asheville.
Asheville tourism officials want a decision. They’ve thrown a lot of cash into the bid. Local hotels are holding blocks of rooms. There have also been other resources committed to making the event happen. Officials yesterday said the Ironman event would bring a potential economic impact of more than $10 million to the area.
So, we’ll wait.