FAIRBANKS (AP) -- An Alaska-owned communications company has signed on as the prime sponsor of the Open North American Sled Dog Race.
Alaska Communications Systems has promised to give the Alaska Dog Mushers' Association $25,000 a year for the length of the three-year contract to support the three-day sprint race. The contract has a two-year renewal option.
''We're real happy to have that kind of money in the bank ahead of time,'' said ADMA president Lloyd Lowry.
With the sponsorship of ACS and funds raised through the sale of pull tabs, Lowry said, the ADMA can guarantee a minimum purse of $45,000 for the race.
The purse has varied from $22,000 to $50,000 in the past decade, with last year's payout at $40,000. The $45,000 prize fund is the largest guaranteed purse in sprint racing in the world at this time, Lowry said.
The 2001 ACS Open North American will be March 16-18 on Second Avenue in downtown Fairbanks. The race features 20-mile heats on the first two days and a 30-mile heat on the third day.
Last year when a sponsor backed out at the last minute, ACS stepped in with a $10,000 contribution.
''We were glad to come back, and that's what got discussions going for this year,'' said ACS spokesman Tom Jensen. ''We're not precluding ADMA from getting other sponsors, but we wanted to be the signature sponsor.''
The Open North American is the longest running sled dog race in North America, held under its current format since 1946.
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