World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), owners and licensors of Ironman races around the world including the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon, has acquired the U.S. race assets of its biggest licensee, North American Sports (NAS).
WTC purchased, and will now itself produce, Ironman races in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Lake Placid, New York as well as Ironmans in Wisconsin, Florida and Arizona. WTC also purchased the two 70.3 events owned by NAS in Oceanside, California, and at Disney World in Florida. NAS will no longer produce Ironman or 70.3 races anywhere in the United States.
"WTC is excited to welcome Graham Fraser and the NAS U.S. operational team, which has a tremendous track record of putting on some of the finest races in the world," said WTC president Ben Fertic [pictured below]. "We look forward to their long term contributions to the quality and growth of future Ironman races."
Graham Fraser [pictured above], who owned and built NAS from the ground up, said that, "For more than 10 years, my team and I have been offering athletes the highest quality race experience at some of the most extraordinary Ironman venues in the United States. I look forward to helping WTC grow the Ironman brand."
"WTC will continue to have a combination of owned and licensed events," said WTC spokesperson Blair LaHaye. Indeed, this purchase does not put Fraser out of the Ironman business. In addition to assisting WTC in its transition from licensor to producer of the races he built, Fraser will still own and produce, under license, Subaru Ironman Canada in Penticton, BC. That race will continue to be Ironman branded, at least for the present, and pursuant to the successful renegotiation of the license at regular intervals. Fraser will also continue to run the NA Foundation, the charitable arm of NAS, as well as other businesses in which NAS is involved.
The current NAS president, 8-time Ironman world champion Paula Newby-Fraser, "...will remain a key player within the brand," according to WTC. Whether she fills this role remaining in the employ of NAS, or moves over to WTC, is up in the air. Most of the NAS staff will transfer to WTC employment, and there will remain a WTC presence in Boulder, Colorado during 2009. It is expected some of the workforce will relocate over time from Boulder to WTC's headquarters in Tarpon Springs, Florida.
WTC will have more to say in the coming days and weeks about how all the moving parts of the two organizations will fit together, such as the role Steve Meckfessel—director for all Ironman and 70.3 events owned by WTC (excluding Ironman Hawaii)—might play in the races acquired by NAS.
But WTC did confirm that two important cogs in the operations of NAS events, Paul Huddle and Roch Fry, will continue performing their roles. "The operational structure of the teams will remain the same," said LaHaye, who continued, "The race directors for the existing events will remain the same and we will look to utilize the best resources of both companies."