It appears as though a new Ironman 70.3 event will be making its way to Indian Wells/La Quinta on December 9, 2018 and an additional 2 years.  The December 19, 2017 La Quinta City Council Meeting agenda starts on page 179 and puts 58 pages of details into the public record.


Do you like to swim in bitterly cold water?  If so, Lake Cahuilla is the right place for you with water temperatures in December typically in the low to mid 50s.  If that venue sounds familiar it is the same swim location that HITS has been using since 2012 the 1st week of December for HITS Championships Palm Springs and will be back again the weekend before 70.3 Ironman Indian Wells/La Quinta.  HITS was already coming off an awful 2017 in Palm Springs.  The 2017 edition of HITS Championships Palm Springs was down 54% in total finishers compared to 2016 and that includes a precipitous drop in 70.3 mile distance finishers [130 vs 338 in 2016].  A WTC race one week before HITS at the same venue appears antithetical to the voices calling for the collaboration to get the sport growing again.


The cities of Indian Wells & La Quinta are writing a combined check for $180,000/year for 3 years or a combined $540,000 to host 70.3 Ironman Indian Wells/La Quinta.  In addition, Indian Wells shall cover (or otherwise reimburse WTC for) the facility usage fee (such fee estimated to be $50,000 per Event) necessary to use the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

That seems to be predicated on the following data.

  • IRONMAN®’s economic impact on other host destinations is estimated between $3.5M to $7M
  • Over 10,000 spectators, athletes and athlete families
  • 35% of 70.3 Ironman athletes bring 3 or more travel companions to races
  • WTC estimates 3,400 room nights during the race (across the Coachella Valley).
  • $247,000 Average Annual Household Income
  • Indian Wells/La Quinta were asked their capability to recruit a minimum of 2,000 experienced event volunteers over four days
  • Room rates must include a $15 rebate per night payable to IRONMAN
  • The IRONMAN® Foundation commits to invest a minimum of $15,000 in a local non-profit.
  • Non-Competition. Except HITS, no other race distance longer than that of an “Olympic” distance triathlon during the Term and the twenty-eight (28)-month period thereafter within 75 miles of the Venue


We are not normally privy to this level of detail but on the surface WTC did a great job of selling Indian Wells & La Quinta on this event.  Time will tell if the assumptions and promises made will come to fruition.

  • Ironman 70.3 Oceanside in April and Ironman 70.3 Superfrog in September are the closest races to this venue.  In 2017 those races averaged 1,465 finishers.  Combined with the check for $180,000 from the host cities per year, WTC should be pleased with that type of finisher number for a December race at this venue.
  • “10,000 Spectators, Athletes & Families”.  This number appears inflated.  For example, if 1,666 athletes participated each one would have to bring 5 people with them.  WTC’s own data that 35% of 70.3 Ironman athletes bring 3 or more travel companions to races would not line up with this assumption.
  • Room Nights. WTC estimates 3,400 room nights during the race.  Indian Wells is 125 miles from Los Angeles & San Diego where many of the athletes will be driving.  This is a Sunday race with the assumption that packet pickup is Saturday.  Friday afternoon traffic anywhere in SoCal is an endurance event.  Travelling to the venue on Saturday morning saves a night in a hotel and a soul crushing commute.  Many SoCal athletes will only need accommodations on Saturday night and are as likely to go through AirBNB or VRBO as book a hotel.
  • Volunteers/Staff.  The distinction between volunteers and staff isn’t always clear.  CGI Lawsuit Link. WTC asks perspective host venues their capability to recruit 2,000 volunteers over a 4 day period.  Assuming each volunteer puts in 8 hours that translates to 16,000 hours.  If the return to the community is The IRONMAN® Foundation commitment to invest a minimum of $15,000 to non-profits that is less than $1 an hour.  Kudos to WTC if they convince 2,000 people to volunteer their time to directly benefit a $900 million company looking to do an IPO serving a $247,000 Average Annual Household Income customer.