Local businesses gear up for upcoming Ironman competition

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 11:19 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As athletes prepare for this course businesses are also gearing up to cash in. Some local businesses hope this boost will help bail them out of a COVID slide.

The Downtown Development Authority says 51 new businesses opened during the pandemic now as more events come back they’re finally getting the foot traffic they need.

You know what they say as one door closes another opens.

“A mini Masters,” said Eric Kinlaw, owner of Bee’s Knees.

As the city takes down the rest of the mini Arts in the Heart Festival they prepare to set up for the Ironman this weekend. Arts City Festival organizers estimates they had 45,000 to 60,000 people come through the gates last weekend.

It’s a breath of fresh air for restaurants like the Bee’s Knees, back open and rebranded since the pandemic began.

“It was pretty good to get some eyes on us and some people curious and inquisitive walking in and kinda checking it out and running in and out,” said Kinlaw.

This weekend, more than 3,000 athletes, their families, coaches and fans are expected downtown.

“This is your finish line area, this is your post race area, this is where all the dreams come true,” said Troy Fitzgerald, Ironman Augusta 70.3 race director.

Not just for competitors but local businesses, too. According to the Augusta Sports Council Ironman brings in about $5 million in economic impact.

“Honestly like I was just getting giddy the past couple of days because everything was finally coming together. I wasn’t just seeing it through email,” said Fitzgerald.

The Downtown Development Authority says we’re making up for the one million visitors we lost last year.

“Festivals and events are just great exposure for downtown businesses you know folks may have come down for arts in the heart and not specifically gone into a downtown business but it’s free advertisement and folks are going to look at all the news things that have opened in the last year and say to themselves let’s go back down town this year and see what new,” said Margaret Woodard, Executive Director Downtown Development Authority.

“Definitely good to see activity and you know people not from the area coming. I think things are set to really grow and be really good for the community,” said Kinlaw.

Troy with Ironman says they will start setting up for the event Wednesday and to watch out for more bikers on the roads as the athletes start arriving.

How Ironman triathlon will affect traffic

Ironman 70.3 Augusta organizers have announced information regarding the route and traffic plan for the competition on Sunday.

The triathlon will begin at 7 a.m. with a 1.2-mile swim from the Augusta Riverwalk Marina to The Boathouse Community Center on Riverfront Drive. From there, the athletes will transition to the 56-mile cycling leg. The cyclists will return to the transition area at The Boathouse to begin the 13.1-mile run leg of the race through downtown Augusta.

Augusta Regional Airport will close two entrances to accommodate the triathlon: the north entrance and the Standard Aero entrance will close around 7 a.m. Sunday. At the intersection of Doug Barnard Parkway and Tobacco Road, the main entrance will remain open for through traffic, but traffic may be held between 8:45 a.m. through 1:45 p.m. to allow race participants to pass.

Elsewhere in Augusta, these areas will be designated no-parking areas from 4 a.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday:

  • Broad Street from East Boundary to 13th Street, including center parking bays.
  • Reynolds Street from East Boundary to Bay Street.
  • Eighth Street from Reynolds Street to Broad Street.

The bike course will affect these roads at the listed times:

  • Gordon Highway from 7:23 to 10:30 a.m.
  • Gordon Highway flyover from 7:30 to 10:32 a.m.
  • Mike Padgett Highway from 7:30 a.m. to 1:04 p.m.
  • Old Waynesboro from 7:40 to 11:48 a.m.
  • McDade from 7:44 to 11:12 a.m.
  • Brown from 7:49 to 11:25 a.m.
  • McCombe from 8:06 to 11:57 a.m.
  • Broome from 8:10 a.m. to 12:03 p.m.
  • Hephzibah McBean from 8:12 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Horseshoe from 8:21 a.m. to 12:46 p.m.
  • 4-H Club from 8:38 a.m. to 1:08 p.m.
  • Doug Barnard Parkway to Gordon Highway from 8:41 a.m. to 1:53 p.m.
  • Gordon Highway and Taylor from 9:07 a.m. to 2:09 p.m.
  • Taylor and Fourth from 9:07 a.m. to 2:09 p.m.
  • Watkins and East Boundary from 9:08 a.m. to 2:12 p.m.
  • Sand Bar Ferry from 9:09 a.m. to 2:16 p.m.

The run course will affect these roads at the listed times:

  • Broad Street east from 13th Street to East Boundary from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Broad St. west from East Boundary to 12th Street from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • East Boundary south from Reynolds Street to Greene Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Greene Street east from East Boundary to 13th Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • 13th Street north from Greene Street to Broad Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • 12th Street from Broad Street to Jones Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Jones Street from 12th Street to 10th Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • 10th Street from Jones Street to Reynolds Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Eighth Street from Reynolds Street to Broad Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Reynolds Street from 10th Street to Bay Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Bay Street from Reynolds Street to Reynolds Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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