Kona businesses reap big rewards from thousands who flock to Ironman race

Kona businesses reap big rewards from thousands who flock to Ironman race

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - About 2,500 athletes ― plus their relatives, friends and followers ― are expected in Kona for Saturday’s Ironman World Championship ultra-endurance race.

"Realistically, it's more like 6,000 to 10,000 people coming into town," said Teri Leicher, managing partner at Jack's Diving Locker.

With the large crowd comes revenue, especially for the west side of the Big Island ― where cash registers are racking up sales.

Ironman's projected economic impact to the state is $30 million.

"There's some definite upside for a lot of our businesses here that may not have the same type of revenue sources throughout the year," said Wendy Laros, Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce executive director.

Kona Brewing Company’s signature beers are distributed in 37 countries. The triathletes and their entourages who know and like the brand pour into the pub during race weeks.

“The week before Ironman, the week after Ironman, it’s a little over 50% of the month’s revenue coming on those two weeks. So it’s really centralized around Ironman,” general manager Cary Knowlton said.

The Kona Sports Center is also getting a huge boost. People buy apparel and gear and triathletes get last-minute fixes on their bikes.

Brad Weinmann said sales on are pace to triple the store's monthly income target.

"I predict that Ironman will be the larger bump in our business. If I compare Ironman and Christmas I think Ironman will be the stronger season for us," he said.

Jack's Diving Locker has worked with Ironman since 1982. Leicher has watched the trickle down effect spread throughout Kona.

"It's hard to find a place to stay, rent a car or rent a bicycle. And the people that do the repairs on these things are also very busy," she said.

Knowlton said if there is a downside it's the added traffic and congestion in Kona.

"But that's really a small price to pay on the benefits this community receives from the event," he said.

As for anything that brings an infusion of income to the community none compares to the Ironman triathlon.

"We've already sold out of product," Weinmann said. "So obviously next year we need to anticipate even more growth."

There’s also an after-race effect. The Ironman’s worldwide exposure puts Kona in the spotlight.

That’s a pretty good advertising tool.

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