Elite athletes could put Vernon on the map.
Vernon is among a number of communities that have been invited to bid for Ironman Canada.
“We are looking for a new home for Ironman Canada,” said Steve Meckfessel, with the Tampa, Fla.-based World Triathlon Corporation, owner of the event.
“There’s a home for it ideally in Western Canada.”
Ironman has been in Penticton for 30 years but the South Okanagan community is entering into a new relationship with Challenge Family next year.
That has led to a search for a new Ironman host.
“Vernon kept popping up on the shortlist as well as did Kelowna, Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler,” said Meckfessel.
Among the criteria that will be considered in selecting a community is the resources and facilities required to host a major event (Penticton had 2,700 participants this year).
“We’re looking for a community that wants us and wants a long-term relationship,” said Meckfessel.
“There’s a lot of interest from athletes to pre-register for next year.”
Interested communities must submit bids by Sept. 24 and an announcement will be made in mid-October.
Vernon council is expected to make a decision on a bid package Sept. 10.
“There is a lot of information to still be considered,” said Mayor Rob Sawatzky.
“Definitely there are some positives but definitely there will be negatives and responsibilities. We don’t want to miss out on a good opportunity but we want to do our homework.”
City staff are currently doing some research.
“It’s an iconic event and internationally known. But what are the costs involved and the capacity of the community to host it well?” said Michelle Jefferson, tourism manager.
Areas to be considered are pulling together and accommodations for the athletes plus their family and support team. The city would also need a budget for the event.
“The host community is responsible for quite a bit,” said Jefferson.
Jefferson isn’t sure if Vernon could host Ironman in conjunction with Kelowna.
“We want to talk to other communities that may be interested,” she said.