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Four finalist cities shortlisted for new central USA-based IRONMAN event in 2020

CHATTANOOGA, TN - SEPTEMBER 10: Stephane Gomez #1362 of France competes in the IRONMAN 70.3 Men's World Championship on September 10, 2017 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for IRONMAN)

IRONMAN has named four finalist cities as potential hosts for a new IRONMAN triathlon taking place in the USA in 2020. The finalist cities are: Des Moines (Iowa), Fayetteville (Arkansas), Memphis (Tennessee) and Tulsa (Oklahoma).

The new event, expected to take place in late-spring/early-summer of 2020, will be the first brand-new full-distance IRONMAN triathlon introduced in the United States since 2014, expanding the series in the central United States region.

IRONMAN officials will be visiting the four cities during the next month as the selection process continues. The decision of determining the next host city for the new IRONMAN event in 2020 is expected by mid-June.

“We are very excited about this opportunity to bring an IRONMAN event to the Central United States,” said Shane Facteau, Chief Operating Officer for IRONMAN. “We have been looking into this particular area of the country for a while now and felt the time is right to add a brand-new full-distance IRONMAN triathlon to the US series.

“First-class cities from around the region shared their interest with us and we are pleased to move forward with Des Moines, Fayetteville, Memphis, and Tulsa on the next stage of this process. All four of these cities present great opportunities to put on a world-class IRONMAN triathlon through their unique landscapes, culture, history and hospitality, that our athletes and their families and friends would surely appreciate.”

IRONMAN cites the virtues of the four cities and central US locations:

Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa’s Capital City and its surrounding communities boast big amenities in a safe and accessible location. Greater Des Moines provides all the adventure and reward of a high-profile city without the inflated cost. Cultural events and festivals coupled with bike trails, parks, and lakes give residents and visitors of all ages plenty to do and see in Des Moines. Getting to the metro is easy from virtually any location worldwide as seven airlines service the Des Moines International Airport. Additionally, a quarter of the U.S. population is within a one-day drive. More than 13,000 hotel rooms and 1,000 locally-owned restaurants greet visitors as they arrive to enjoy the area. Des Moines was also recently recognized by U.S. News & World Report as a top-five place to live in the United States.

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring IRONMAN to Des Moines; our community and state will wholeheartedly embrace and support this event,” said Catch Des Moines President & CEO Greg Edwards.

“As a finalist city and a metro that has the know-how and local support in hosting world-class events, we look forward to sharing our cityscape and countryside with IRONMAN athletes and fans. From our nationally-ranked Downtown Farmers’ Market to the hundreds of local restaurants for pre and post-race cuisine, Des Moines is a great location to not only spend race day, but a race weekend!”

Fayetteville, Arkansas – Surrounded by the scenic Ozark Mountains, the historic city of Fayetteville is the epicenter of rapidly growing Northwest Arkansas and has earned its reputation as an important hot spot for business, education and entertainment. Consistently named one of the nation’s best places to live, visit, or retire, Fayetteville offers the small-town feel that Arkansas is known for, yet has a wide range of exciting attractions. Fayetteville is the entertainment capital of Northwest Arkansas, with its thriving arts scene, legendary live music and nightlife, culinary treasures and endless events and attractions for all ages. Fayetteville is overflowing with natural areas and parks, encompassing 3,000 acres of land. The city also boasts 70 parks with 40 miles of paved and natural trails, three lakes, 43 athletic fields/courts, a swimming pool, a BMX track and even a skate park. Fayetteville is well known as being a bike-friendly city.

“We have excellent facilities and amenities that give us the opportunity to host a world-class event like IRONMAN,” said Molly Rawn, Executive Director of Experience Fayetteville. “We’re excited about what this means for Fayetteville and look forward to showcasing our city.”

Memphis, Tennessee – Located in the southwest corner of Tennessee, the city of Memphis is nestled on the Mississippi River and is a city that can’t be duplicated. It is the realm of music icons, where streets rock and the Mississippi River flows; it is a city that can feed your soul with its Southern hospitality and original flavors. Memphis is more than a place—it’s an experience. In the home of the blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll, visitors can chase music legends at Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Sun Studio and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Catch live music on Beale Street every night of the week. Sample the diverse food-and-drink scene that features ample barbecue and soul food—and experience Memphis’ new generation of chefs that like to riff on tradition—as well as the craft brewers and distillers who make sure you have something good to pair it with. Memphis has received numerous accolades including being listed as one of “America’s Friendliest Cities” by Travel + Leisure, as well as ‘The Best Affordable Destinations in the US’ by US News and World Report.

“Memphis is a world-class sports destination that is complemented by the amazing food and music our city is known for around the world,” said Kevin Kane, President & CEO of Memphis Tourism.

“We are a city that continues to grow as a major player on the global sports stage after being selected as one of four host cities for the world for the prestigious World Golf Championships starting in 2019. IRONMAN would complement our variety of year-round sporting events that make Memphis a must-see sports destination.

Tulsa, Oklahoma – Situated on the Arkansas River between the Osage Hills and the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeast Oklahoma, Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state. It boasts a wide variety of attractions, including Gathering Place (the largest privately funded public park in the country), Philbrook and Gilcrease museums, the Tulsa Zoo, and the Oklahoma Aquarium. Visitors can also enjoy professional baseball and soccer at the downtown stadium, ONEOK Field. Tulsa is known as a barbeque town but also boasts James Beard award-winning seafood and internationally renowned craft beer. The city prides itself on offering big-city experiences in a completely different way: no huge crowds, no big attitudes, just plenty to do for you and your whole group.

“In 2019 alone, Tulsa was fortunate to host the Big 12 Wrestling Championship and the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament,” said Ray Hoyt, President of Tulsa Regional Tourism.

“In the last five years, we’ve hosted the Bassmaster Classic, USA BMX Grand Nationals and the Arabian Horse Association’s US Nationals. Tulsa is ready for IRONMAN – we are well-suited for this style of event. We’re thrilled to be selected as a potential city for this internationally prestigious competition.”

Existing IRONMAN host communities have measured as much as US$10 million of direct economic impact on the local economy, with a total of US$13 million when also factoring indirect and induced impacts. Additionally, IRONMAN host communities have seen hotel room night counts upwards of 12,000, thanks to athletes staying an average of three to four nights in-market for IRONMAN events, bringing a big boost to the local economy.



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