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Full Ironman Triathlon may return to Coeur d'Alene in 2021

Council member Dan Gookin told KREM he would support bringing back the race and suspects the rest of the council would as well.

KOOTENAI CO., Idaho – Talks of bringing the full Ironman Triathlon back to Coeur d'Alene are in the works between the city, the Chamber of Commerce, North Idaho Sports Commission and Ironman's parent company as the city's previous contract with Ironman is about to expire.

Council member Dan Gookin told KREM 2 Monday afternoon that the council received an email from City Administrator Troy Tymesen that said the North Idaho Sports Commission (NISC) is working with the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce on a transition to become the Ironman Host Site administrator beginning in 2021. 

Britt Bachtel-Browning, Vice President of the North Idaho Sports Commisson, said the commission, the city and Ironman have been working for two years to brainstorm ways to bring back the race, ever since it was announced that the full Ironman would leave Coeur d'Alene.

"The city and North Idaho Sports Commission have been working with Ironman to explore the possibility of bringing the full race back to Coeur d'Alene with contract negotiations. We're close to working out the details," Browning said.

Browning's statement is consistent with Tymesen's email, stating the city has been in negotiations with Ironman to bring back the full race on a three-year rotation that would start in 2021. 

Coeur d'Alene Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Steve Wilson confirmed that the chamber is in conversations with Ironman’s parent company, World Triathlon Corp. about renewing a three-year contract. Wilson explained that in the past, contracts with the organization were five-years in length, but the WTC's new business model will explore three-year contracts with three cities in the Northwest, including Coeur d'Alene.

That new agreement would mean Coeur d'Alene would get a full triathlon in 2021, but two other northwestern cities would get a full race in 2022 and 2023, though Wilson could not confirm which cities those would be. Coeur d'Alene would still see Ironman 70.3 races in 2022 and 2023.

Tymesen said in the email that if an agreement is reached between the two agencies, they will bring a proposal to the city council for a partnership agreement that resembles those made in the past. 

Gookin told KREM he would support bringing back the race and suspects the rest of the council would as well. Exactly two years ago, the council voted to amend the city’s Ironman agreement with the Chamber of Commerce to continue hosting the Ironman 70.3 race for three more years.

Gookin said the council was happy to keep the races, but negotiations between the chamber and the World Triathlon Corp., did not include any Ironman races after that three-year period. 

While Gookin expressed excitement at the possibility of more Ironman Triathlons in Coeur d’Alene, Wilson seemed less than enthused about the events two years ago. 

Wilson said it was an “easy decision when all partners involved agree” that the changes would be mutually beneficial. With participation declining to about half of what it was four years prior, and a phenomenon Wilson called “event fatigue,” referring to the lack of volunteers in recent years, keeping races in Coeur d'Alene didn't make financial sense.

Things have changed though, as all sides of negotiations sound optimistic about the possible changes. With fewer Ironman races in the market competing for attendance and participation, parties are hopeful that this business model will remedy the issue of declining participation.