Events generate large sales, foot traffic for Eastern Shore businesses

Board introduces new sponsors, unveils signature sculpture at Visitors Center

Cambridge, MD – May 9, 2016 –-IRONClub Maryland, the non-profit organization formed to support large-scale, high-impact endurance events in Dorchester County, today released the results of an economic impact report revealing that the 2015 IRONMAN races attracted 3,500 participants and generated almost $5.5 million for the region. The findings were announced at the Dorchester Visitors Center during a morning reception recognizing new sponsors and board members including an unveiling of a locally fabricated metal IRONMAN sculpture.

Cambridge International President and CEO Tracy L. Tyler joined area business and government leaders to applaud the economic benefits and reveal the large, three-dimensional IRONMAN sculpture with a new, Maryland design.

“On behalf of Dorchester County and IRONClub Maryland, thank you for rallying behind IRONMAN and enthusiastically supporting our local booster club,” said Tourism Director and board member Amanda Fenstermaker. “Over the past two years, more than 300 members raised over $100,000 in private contributions toward licensing fees and leveraged that support with donations, in-kind services and volunteerism. Together, we’ve increased our investment 100-fold, generating $10 million for our economy in only two short years.”

Produced by Salisbury University’s BEACON Center under the direction of Memo Diriker “IRONMAN Races in Dorchester County: 2015 Economic Impact” reveals the June 14 Eagleman and October 13 IRONMAN Marylnad (IMMD) contributed $5.47 million to the local economy. An estimated 10,000 athletes and guests from around the world came to Dorchester County last summer and fall. Visitors stayed longer and spent more than the average tourist. The study found:

  • Two events collectively drew 3,500 participants: Eagleman (2,100) and 1,400 for IMMD*
  • 88% of IMMD athletes and 70% of Eagleman entries traveled distances greater than 100 miles to participate
  • IMMD athletes were accompanied by 2.5 guests on average; 1.7 for Eagleman
  • Direct spending by the athletes locally during the IRONMAN events was significant with 56% of IMMD participants reported spending at least $1,000 in Dorchester county and 54% of Eagleman athletes reported spending at least $750 in Dorchester
  • IMMD athletes/guests stayed an average of four nights; double that of Eagleman
  • 1,400 volunteers supported IMMD; another 800 volunteered for Eagleman

Testifying to the events’ importance to local businesses, Patrick Fanning, Chef and Co-Owner of High Spot, Stoked, Black Water and Rock Lobstah said, “The days around the races bring my restaurants the biggest crowds we get all year. The racers bring their friends and family and many athletes come back to visit or train.”

He added that IRONMAN events benefit the entire community and are a win-win for everyone. Fanning passed out cookies from his Black Water bakery featuring IRONMAN’s signature red M-Dot logo.

Fenstermaker recognized new 2016 IRONClub members including the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay and the Nathan Foundation, who each contributed $5,000 to support the event. She welcomed Cambridge Multi-Sport President Michael Keene who introduced new Club member Sara Lettelleir. Keene and Letteleir used the occasion to announce the recipients of CMS’s scholarships to Patrick Geleta and Austin Loeffler.

IRONClub board member and Dorchester Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Christopher explained that the IRONMAN sculpture overlooking the Choptank Lighthouse was one of the most photographed spots of the race – as well as the featured cover image on the Chambers 2016 Member Directory. He invited Tracy Tyler to help ‘cut the ribbon’ on the new sculpture with Race Director Gerry Boyle.

“Cambridge was proud to partner with IRONClub to create this iconic sculpture. Once we saw how popular it became — as athletes and visitors posted photos of our beautiful community around the world — we knew we had to make our Maryland marks even more special,” said Tyler. “This year, our team of talented fabricators and engineers remade the façade painting one side with the Maryland flag and powder-coating the other red creating a three-dimensional, one-of-a-kind sculpture.”

Tyler recognized Matt O’Connell, Cambridge’s Director of Operations, a long-time company engineer and endurance athlete, for coordinating design, labor and construction. The sculpture was powder coated by Metal Arc of Cambridge and metal flag printed by Plak That of Ocean City.

To learn more about the economic impact study or to join IRONClub Maryland, visit: www.visitdorchester.org.

Photos from the unveiling event, courtesy of Jill Jusuta: