People are still pretty pissed about the clusterfuck that was the inaugural Half Ironman Indian Wells La Quinta – and while it must’ve sucked a ton to be stuck in traffic for four hours just trying to get out of the La Quinta Cove, the gut punch may be that the city, along with Indian Wells and the local tourism agency, threw down a bunch of coin to make it happen.
Via the Desert Sun:
La Quinta, Indian Wells and the Greater Palm Springs Area Convention & Visitors Bureau joined with Ironman in presenting the event. Each contributed $96,500, with an anticipated positive economic impact above the initial investment. The cities conservatively estimated a return of at least $36,000 to each in hotel taxes alone without factoring in sales tax or short-term vacation rentals.
Was spending $300,000 in public funds on Ironman worth it? And would those hotel taxes would have been similar even without the Ironman as people seem to like to flock to the desert this time of year? We will never know.
But hey, it’s just public money that could be spent on literally anything else.
A La Quinta official told the newspaper that other cities that host an Ironman see an economic impact of between $3.5 million and $7 million – and maybe it does? There were 2,300 athletes at this weekend’s event – so all each would have to do is simply spend $3,043* while in town over the weekend, which is tough to do when you are spending so much time swimming, biking, and running.
*Yes, nerds. I know that’s not exactly how economic impact works and there are plenty of other factors (staff lodging, permits, event rentals), but, still, you get my point.
The City Manager for La Quinta has already apologized for how terribly things were handled and the event already has announced it will return on Dec. 15, 2019 – giving residents and non-Iron man tourists plenty of time to figure out a way to be as far away from the area as possible.