ST. GEORGE – October brings two of the year’s largest athletic events to Washington County, the St. George Marathon and the Huntsman World Senior Games. These are the premiere events among many offered throughout the year which welcome athletes from around the world to enjoy and explore Southern Utah’s stunning beauty while passionately participating in varied sporting events.
The St. George Marathon engages 7,400 runners and the Huntsman World Senior Games welcomes just over 10,000 athletes aged 50-and-older to compete in multiple sports. Kyle Case, Huntsman World Senior Games CEO, noted in a press release Friday that the number of October visitors to Southern Utah climbs even higher when you consider the family members and fans who accompany these diehard athletes.
The economic benefits to local businesses are considerable. According to Case’s press release, it is estimated that the St. George Marathon brings in over $5 million into the economic engine of southern Utah in a single weekend, and the World Senior Games brings in just over $13 million during its two-week October event.
The City of St. George’s assistant to the city manager, Marc Mortensen, said the difference between the St. George Marathon and other competitions such as Ironman is that the Marathon is the city’s own event. “We get all the revenue,” he said. “It’s the largest single-day event and (income) generator” for the city.
And just as the Marathon is the largest single-day event, the Senior Games is by far the largest sporting event that runs over several days, Mortensen said.
Besides feeding the local economy, Mortensen said that help is given to local charities from the revenue the Marathon yields. According to the city’s marathon website, the Marathon’s “Official Charity Program,” Dixie Care & Share, The Erin Kimball Memorial Foundation, Washington Fire Relief & Charitable Organization, Simply Because Foundation, Assistance League Southern Utah and the Dove Center, are among those selected to receive guaranteed marathon entries to assist in their fundraising efforts. The city also recognizes and encourages runners to “run for the cause” of multiple other charities listed on that site.
Back-to-back, these two events are welcomed by businesses and boost the economy in many ways.
“We do more business in October than most other months combined,” said Neil Roberts, owner of the Player’s Sports Grill. “The World Senior Games is huge for us.”
Speaking to room occupancies in local hotels, Ramada Inn’s Nicole Hannit said, “In a month that would otherwise be dead, the Marathon and the World Senior Games bring our occupancies up on par with April and May.”
The hotels, restaurants, gas stations and sporting goods stores benefit; the city and the charities it supports benefit; and a portion of the money that flows into the restaurants and hotels, finds its way into the hands of the everyday workers – waitresses, cooks, front desk clerks, grounds keepers and housekeeping staff. As Case said in his Friday press release, those people in turn have more discretionary income they can spend – at our malls, home improvement stores, salons and for those who will now have that down payment, those dollars flow to real estate offices.
“Oh we spend it, I guarantee that, “ says Deric Wortham, server at the Village Inn Restaurant on River Road. “I bring in at least 30 percent more tips during October than other months. Sometimes we’ll all go to another restaurant around town and let someone else serve ‘us.’”
In terms of recreation-generated income to the City of St. George generally, Mortensen said that golf probably brings in the largest sum, softball is a giant economic engine, he said, and probably ranks second; and then there is the Runner Series of nine designated races that the city offers marathon runners who are not Washington County residents – it is one more way runners can get into the Marathon without going through the lottery. Mortensen said he doesn’t think there’s another city in Utah that offers as many of these kinds of events.
“I think most of our residents and business owners understand the economic impact of the St. George Marathon and the Huntsman World Senior Games,” Case said. “And when locals support us by attending our events, cheering people on, donating, sponsoring and generally supporting what we do and what we bring to the area, it means a lot.”
When: Oct. 6, 2012
Visit the St. George Marathon website for maps, schedules, events, volunteer applications, sponsorships and more.
Huntsman World Senior Games recap
When: Oct. 8-20, 2012
Visit the Huntsman World Senior Games website for sports and venues, maps, schedules, events, volunteer applications, sponsorships and more.
For more on Huntsman World Senior Games 2012:
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