Hydros halfway on finances

Official: Tally is near $400,000; total could be hit in coming weeks

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COEUR d'ALENE - Diamond Cup Regatta Chairman Doug Miller said the group spearheading the return of hydroplane races to Lake Coeur d'Alene has secured more than half of the financial total to make the event happen.

That total is estimated to be $400,000, Miller said, and race directors could hit the entire sum in the coming weeks. The CDADC board of directors should be ready to announce the names of sponsors then, too.

"We're well on our way to securing that funding to move this thing forward," Miller said in an interview Wednesday, estimating the total pledges at "well over halfway."

The North Idaho venue has already been announced by H1 Unlimited Series Chairman Sam Cole in a press release as the spot for races this Labor Day weekend. Tickets, likely starting at roughly $20 for single-day admission, are set to go on sale March 1.

Miller said the reason the sanctioned races were canceled last year one month after their return was announced was because it took longer than anticipated for organizers to secure the proper Kootenai County and state permits. That left little time to seek sponsorship support, he said. This year, sponsors have rolled over, and with the permits in hand organizers have had plenty of time to secure financing.

Sponsor names, when they're announced, will be recognizable names, and "a mix of local and national companies," Miller said.

Miller, who has been working on bringing the races back to Coeur d'Alene for around five years, said the sanctioned hydro-runs could be an economic boon for the area, similar to what the Tri-Cities in Washington experiences hosting hydro races annually on the same racing circuit.

Tri-City Water Follies Event Director Kathy Powell said the region takes in around $2.5 million from the 65,000 visitors who attend the weekend event.

"I think it would be great for Coeur d'Alene," she said, adding another summer venue in the West would "round out the H-1 schedule."

If the city of Coeur d'Alene takes over East Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive from the state - which is under negotiation - City Council member Deanna Goodlander said the city could be willing to work with the organizers to ensure the races continue this year. The city banned hydroplane races in 1996. The proposed race site is out of city limits, unless the city takes over Coeur d'Alene Lake Drive, which would host spectator seating.

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