By: Rachael Schuit, Up North Live
Northern Michigan is known for high level athletic events such as the Iceman Cometh Challenge, the North American VASA and now the Ironman.
Now 10 million dollars from the state of Michigan has been set aside to create a Northern Michigan Sports Commission.
Iceman participants like Kyler Bradley are thrilled.
High level athletic events attract people from outside Northern Michigan to the region.
“There’s people that come mainly around Michigan but you get people from the closer states as well,” said Bradley.
Bradley has taken part in the Iceman Cometh Challenge three times including in 2018.
The money for the Northern Michigan Sports Commission could help keep athletic facilities, recreation areas, and possibly the Copper Peak Ski Jump in good shape.
“There is a really big push not only in this community but throughout the region to really use the natural resources and recreation assets that we have,” said Kent Wood the director of Government Relations and Community Development for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce.
Wood says having the Detroit Red Wings and NHL Prospects in Traverse City as well as other events like the Iceman and North American VASA races requires keeping up these facilities and recreation areas.
“There’s an excitement around that but there’s also an expectation that your facilities, your infrastructure, are gonna be top notch – they’re going be first class worthy of that competition,” said Wood.
Wood says while the events take place for a short time communities benefit from getting to use the recreation areas and facilities year round and Bradley agrees.
“They’ll ride their bikes from Timber Ridge in Traverse City which is actually the finishing point of the Iceman to Kalkaska and then all the way back on the Iceman route back to Timber Ridge and it becomes a super popular weekend ride in the months of September, October into November,” said Bradley.
High level athletic events can also mean a boost in tourism.
“We see a lot of business come up for sporting events to northern Michigan so to be able to keep our facilities at a level of quality where people are willing to travel to northern Michigan to utilize them is important, said Trevor Tkach, the President and CEO of Traverse City Tourism.
It still has to be decided where the money will go but Bradley hopes it will get people off the couch to be active.
“No matter where the money goes I think it would be very important to have that recreational support, have trails and different activities that can involve everyone more and more,” said Bradley.
One hope is that Copper Peak Ski Jump in Ironwood might be able to host an internationally sanctioned ski jump grand prix renovations are made.