Falconhead Acquires Las Vegas Marathon

Falconhead Acquires Las Vegas Marathon
By Daniel Kaplan for Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal

The consolidation of road racing continues as New York-based equity fund Falconhead Capital is acquiring the Las Vegas Marathon.

The deal, slated to be unveiled soon, further establishes Falconhead’s Competitor Group Inc, (CGI) as one of the leading road running organizations in the United States, with 24 road race, including nine marathons, under its umbrella and several more likely to be added.

“Endurance sports is growing in the down economy,” said Falconhead Chairman David Moross.

Las Vegas was one of the troubled races owned by Devine Racing, which struggled to make payments to vendors and runners. It sold the Los Angeles Marathon several months ago to Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, and now the Las Vegas race goes to Falconhead.

“We struggled every step of the way,” Devine Racing owner Chris Devine said. 

Terms were not available, but it is believed that payment to Devine was nominal, with the principal expense for Falconhead acquiring Devine’s vendor obligations.

This year’s Las Vegas race was scheduled to be run Sunday.

Road racing has shown no signs of slowing even in a recession. John Korff, owner of the New York City Triathlon, said slots for his July 2009 race sold out in 22 minutes when they became available on his Web site last month, even with a 20 percent increase in price.

Endurance sports attracts a high-end demographic that companies like Falconhead covet.

Falconhead in January entered the business by acquiring Elite Racing, the owner of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons. Since then, CGI has announced plans for a new Seattle marathon and acquired a half-marathon in Chicago. The company launched a new marathon and half-marathon in San Antonio last month that drew 30,000 runners. Falconhead also owns endurance sports publications and a Web portal.

CGI’s race in Phoenix next month is tracking more than 7 percent ahead of 2008 in registrations, said Peter Englehart, CGI’s chief executive. “Knock on wood,” he said, “the turnout and response from runners [is strong].”

He did add the caveat that because so many of the runners travel from outside the cities of the race to compete, the economy’s affect on travel is an area of concern.

Meanwhile, Dallas-based U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment this year has acquired marathons in Miami and Atlanta as well as the second major half marathon in Chicago. 

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