STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — In terms of cash, there might not be any sporting event that compares to a Penn State football weekend in Centre County, but the Happy Valley Ironman is giving football a run for its money.

“This event was worth just over $4.4 million in economic impact to our local area,” Happy Valley Sports and Economic Alliance Executive Director Eric Englebarts said.

The HVSEA used the Destinations International Event Impact Calculator to get the data.

The triathlon was held for the first time in July, drawing large crowds and even larger amounts of business.

The economic impact included $3.09 million in spending by visitors and $1.35 million that was spent between businesses. HVSEA said the triathlon supported more than 1,680 jobs, which translates to 35 full-time equivalent employees.

“People travel in,” Englebarts said. “They stay in hotels. They eat in restaurants. They shop in businesses and they spend their money in the local economy.”

The Happy Valley Sports and Economic Alliance, which operates through the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, works to measure the economic impact of tourism events like the IRONMAN, hoping to keep visitors coming back for more.

“These people more than likely wouldn’t be here in Happy Valley if we didn’t already host this event,” Englebarts said. “When you look at that, and we host these individuals, they come in and have a great experience. Potentially, they want to come back and maybe enjoy a vacation as well.”

The IRONMAN is returning to Happy Valley in 2024 and 2025 on an even larger scale.

“One of the programs that will be available is called the IRONMAN Local Program,” Englebarts said. “Local businesses will be able to engage with the event and we’ll try to take these participants and drive them into the restaurants, into the businesses to be able to spend their money here.”

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Registration is already open for the 2024 IRONMAN. You can sign up or learn more here.

“We are excited to welcome back thousands of athletes and their families in 2024,” Dave Christen, Regional Director for The IRONMAN Group said. “We know our athletes are eager to come experience this unique race experience and enjoy everything that Happy Valley has to offer.”