Marathon officials get leg up from county

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Marathon caused some stir among some residents last year when the Kaua‘i County Council approved substantial subsidies for this year’s event, scheduled for Sept. 2.

When race officials gave the council an update Wednesday on the upcoming race, the opposition to a county-funded race was again present.

“Those who have and will benefit from this race are the hotels, the car rentals, the restaurants and the fast-food outlets, the boat and helicopter tours, the gift shops and those being paid for the operation of this event,” Kapa‘a resident Glenn Mickens said. “Let those parties and those runners pay for all expenses, and not the residents who reap no financial benefit.”

Despite the criticism, race officials are citing numbers from the Office of Economic Development, which estimates the economic impact the race has brought to Kaua‘i in the first three years exceeds $7.7 million.

Some council members are justifying the subsidies with the money the race supposedly brought in tourism-dollars to the local economy.

The Kaua‘i Marathon has brought a substantial deficit since its first year, in 2009, when it lost $192,987. The Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau gave race organizers a $25,000 grant that year, and the county also contributed $10,000.

In 2010, KVB gave race organizers $51,000. In addition, sponsorship money for the race almost doubled from $25,000 the previous year to $47,500.

Other sources also brought increased funding. But the 2010 race still lost $158,751.

Last year, revenues from registration fees increased slightly, as well as revenues from other sources. Sponsorship money decreased to $46,100. But the race only lost $4,234 in 2011.

The reason is simple: The council approved $100,000 in subsidies to the 2011 race, the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority gave $30,000 and KVB gave an additional $20,000.

And if it wasn’t for a last-minute amendment by Councilwoman Nadine Nakamura, the county would have given $150,000 to the 2011 race.

Reversal of deficit

During the race’s first three years, revenues from registration fees went from $142,885 in 2009 to $148,384 in 2011. This year, race officials are expecting an increase in participation — and revenues.

Last year there were 1,727 entries, and this year the goal is 2,000 entries, bringing $172,000 in revenues from registration fees, according to race founder Jeff Sachini.

Sponsorship money for this year’s race will more than double compared to 2011, bringing $96,000 in revenues and an additional $43,000 from other sources will help pay for the race’s $401,600 price tag.

But Sachini is saying there is no HTA grant this year and negotiations with KVB are still ongoing.

The race’s biggest subsidy will come from Kaua‘i taxpayers for the second consecutive year. The council last year approved $120,000 for this year’s race.

After all revenues and expenses are balanced, The Kaua‘i Marathon may have a profit for the first time since its inception in 2009. Race organizers are expecting a positive balance of $29,900 in 2012.

With a forecast already prepared for the 2013 race, organizers are predicting a revenue-neutral race next year, with the help of an $85,000 grant from the county. Visit www.thekauaimarathon.com for more information.

• Léo Azambuja, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or lazambuja@ thegardenisland.com.

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