Beargrease gains Black Bear Casino as major sponsorWith 10 weeks to go before the 30th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the financial sponsorships are piling up. On Thursday, organizers announced a big one, Black Bear Casino and Resort.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
With 10 weeks to go before the 30th running of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon, the financial sponsorships are piling up. On Thursday, organizers announced a big one, Black Bear Casino and Resort.
The casino, owned by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, will be a “presenting” sponsor, meaning its name will be used in the title of the race.
Spokeswoman Linda Nervick said the band finds it important to keep the spirit of John Beargrease alive through the annual January race.
Organizers made the announcement at the casino and resort south of Cloquet.
The purse for the race was also announced at $35,000; $25,000 for the marathon and $10,000 for the mid-distance race. The marathon purse was $15,000 last year, an amount that many mushers said didn’t make the commitment worth it.
The purses the years before a decline in revenue had been $40,000.
One “lead dog” sponsor who had dropped this year as the race organization struggled has signed back on. Miller Hill Subaru has had a longtime association with the race and it will continue.
On Thursday, the Black Bear Casino and Resort announced on their Facebook page that they will be sponsoring $50,000 for the Beargrease event.
“We are not only supporting the race but we are also hoping to inspire other sponsors to dig a little deeper,” said one of the Black Bear Casino and Resort representatives.
The Beargrease has been reinvigorated with a new leadership group that took over in late October, when it was announced the race would be canceled because of financial woes. The new group said it wouldn’t allow that to happen and took over the race, vowing that it begin Jan. 26.