Lakefront Anchorage Hotel, longtime Iditarod home, to drop sponsorship after next race

Owners of the hotel that for decades was the Anchorage headquarters of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said Wednesday the hotel will no longer sponsor the event after this year’s race.

The Lakefront Anchorage Hotel will still serve as the Anchorage race headquarters for the next race, which is scheduled to start March 6 in Willow, according to the hotel manager and Chas St. George, director of operations for the Iditarod Trail Committee.

But the hotel along Lake Spenard will not be operational headquarters next year,” said John Bruce, the hotel manager.

Millennium Hotels and Resorts, owner of the Lakefront Hotel, announced the decision in a statement Wednesday.

For decades, the hotel has served as the symbolic home base of the race in the city, where mushers and dogs in their trucks congregate. It has housed discounted mushers and spectators, supported Iditarod-related events such as musher registration, and served as a holding site for dogs that are retired from racing, Bruce said.

But Bruce said the hotel won’t be sponsoring the race and expects it won’t hold events or accept stray dogs from next year.

The “Millennium decision was not taken lightly,” Bruce said in the statement Wednesday. The hotel supports the business generated by the race over the years, he said.

The hotel’s affiliation with the Iditarod has been particularly costly during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said in a phone interview Wednesday. The hotel has a long history of providing discounted space to support events.

But hotel guests who would come for the race weren’t coming during the pandemic and weren’t available to offset the cost of hotel support for the race as they once did, he said.

“I think this pandemic probably affected the hospitality industry the most, and that was it,” he said.

“We’re ready to help them in any way to secure a future location, but I don’t think they’ll have much trouble (finding a new site),” Bruce said.

Millennium, which owns or operates more than 100 hotels worldwide, acquired Hotel Anchorage in 2001. The hotel had sponsored the event for nearly 30 years through a local agreement, Millennium said.

Millennium had never had “direct sponsorship” with the race, the company said.

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The decision does not affect the mushers’ banquet, which is being held at the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage and is scheduled for 3rd of March.

The hotel move came as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced plans to demonstrate at a Millennium hotel in Chicago on Thursday to denounce the company’s support for the race.

Hours after Millennium’s announcement on Wednesday, the animal rights group said it was turning the Chicago protest into a celebration and would cancel a planned ad campaign in Singapore, the chain’s parent company headquarters. hotelier. PETA, in a prepared statement, said over the past year it has targeted Millennium with protests around the world, including outside the Lakefront Anchorage hotel. He also ran negative ads in hospitality magazines, on Anchorage buses, and on a billboard near a Millennium Hotel in New York City. the ads show a photo of a dog attached to a chain and call the Mill Hotel Grouphellium.

Bruce said the pressure from PETA was not part of the hotel’s decision.

Rob Urbach, general manager of the Iditarod, said in an interview Wednesday that ending sponsorship of the hotel in 2023 would not set the race back.

“It’s not a material issue,” he said.

He said the Iditarod is doing well with sponsors, having won five new sponsors for this year, including oil company Hilcorp Alaska.

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“We are laser focused on this race,” he said. “It’s not something I will spend more than a second on until April or May.”

He thinks the mushers will stay at the hotel in the future and the Iditarod might still use the hotel somehow.

“I think it’s an iconic Alaskan hotel in a great location,” he said, near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and Lake Hood, considered the world’s most popular seaplane base. busiest in the world.

Millennium is the latest in a line of sponsors to walk away from the event.

ExxonMobil dropped its sponsorship of the race early last year as PETA prepared to run ads targeting the oil giant ahead of last year’s race. Alaska Airlines and Chrysler, through an Anchorage dealership, also pulled out of the race after PETA protested at the company’s national headquarters. Wells Fargo and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey also dropped their support for the race.

Hilcorp Alaska and its subsidiary Harvest Midstream, telecommunications company GCI and mining company Donlin Gold Continue to be the race’s top sponsors, according to the race’s website.

PETA said in its statement Wednesday that it had recently purchased shares of Liberty Broadband, the Colorado-based owner of GCI. The group says it is considering pressuring the telecommunications company to drop its sponsorship of the Iditarod.

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