North Idaho tourism magnate Duane Hagadone says he’s found the cure for Kootenai County’s lackluster economy: hydroplanes.
Just one weekend of rooster tails from whining powerboats on Lake Coeur d’Alene would pay economic dividends for years to come, Hagadone said Wednesday at his annual economic forecast address to the Coeur d’Alene Board of Realtors.
Hagadone tried to rebut some of the criticism being levied against plans to hold hydro races on Labor Day. He touted the virtues of national television exposure as an economic development tool.
Hagadone also said the use of Tubbs Hill should be negotiated, given the problems that arose during the races 35 years ago.
It’s television that makes the races so appealing, Hagadone said. Just as televised golf events at The Coeur d’Alene Resort golf course put the area in living rooms across the country, hydro races could do even more.
“ESPN said they’d show the races four times,” he said. “We’d get 6-8 minutes to promote Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County. They’d even show it worldwide.”
What better advertising campaign could be imagined than one that shows racing on one of the five most beautiful freshwater lakes in the world? Hagadone asked.
Hagadone conceded that the races face opposition in the area, but believed that enough support exists for bringing them here.
“If you don’t like the crowds, well, go up to the mountains for the weekend,” Hagadone said. “Or go to the other end of the lake - the thing’s 25 miles long. You’d never know they were there.”
The Coeur d’Alene City Council will decide in three weeks whether to allow races.
Hagadone made his pitch for the hydros after giving a less-than-rosy economic outlook that featured his prediction of a big percentage decrease in construction spending.
“You can add a few more points onto those predictions if we have another defeat on this,” he said. Hagadone also admitted that he has a lot at stake if the races do come here. Hagadone’s Coeur d’Alene Resort would likely be the backdrop for the televised races.