Iditarod sled dog race loses its headquarters hotel in Anchorage

ANCHORAGE (AP) — The hotel that has served for nearly three decades as the Anchorage-based headquarters for the world’s most famous sled dog race will end its association with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race next year.

The Lakefront Anchorage Hotel will still be race headquarters for this year’s race and then step away, hotel manager John Bruce and Iditarod Trail Committee Chief Operations Officer Chas St. George told the Anchorage Daily News.

The hotel’s owners, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, announced the change in a statement Feb. 9, a day before the race’s biggest critic, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, was expected to protest at the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago to denounce the company’s support of the Iditarod.

PETA held a protest outside the Anchorage hotel last year.

Bruce said pressure from PETA was not part of the hotel’s decision to end its association with the Iditarod. Instead, he said the pandemic has been costly to the hotel.

Hotel guests who would normally attend the race didn’t travel during the pandemic and didn’t offset the cost of the hotel’s discounts to support race events.

Millennium, which owns or manages more than 100 hotels around the world, acquired the Anchorage hotel in 2001. The hotel had sponsored the Iditarod for nearly 30 years, through a local agreement, Millennium said.

Rob Urbach, chief executive of the Iditarod, said Feb. 9 that the end of the hotel’s sponsorship in 2023 will not set the race back. He said the Iditarod is doing well with sponsorships, after gaining five new sponsors for this year, including oil and gas company Hilcorp Alaska.

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

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

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

This story includes reporting from the Anchorage Daily News.


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