There’s nothing like a couple of thousand “ironmen” to pump up the Lawrence economy.
This will be the second year Lawrence acts as host for the Ironman 70.3 Kansas. On Sunday, the triathlon event is expected to draw about 2,000 competitors from 50 states and 13 countries to Clinton Lake. Coming with them will be another 4,000 to 6,000 spectators and supporters.
The impact of so many visitors to Clinton Lake and Lawrence is immense. Local hotel rooms have been booked up for months, and organizers estimate the event means about $2 million of direct spending in Lawrence. They point out that Ironman athletes are a relatively wealthy bunch with an average annual income of $161,000. That means they have money to spend on motels, better restaurants and whatever equipment might better their chances for athletic success.
It should be a good weekend for Lawrence businesses.
One source of summer business traffic was lost this year when the Wakarusa Music Festival moved to Arkansas after several years in Lawrence. Kansas University brings a steady flow of camp and conference participants to Lawrence during the summer along with incoming freshmen and their families who participate in orientation sessions. But especially in the current sluggish economy, an event like the Ironman gives an important boost to local businesses as well as local sales tax receipts.
City and tourism officials, as well as other Lawrence residents, should do whatever they can to make our Ironmen guests feel welcome this weekend. This is a fun event for Lawrence as well as being a welcome shot in the arm for the Lawrence economy.