A Korean theme park development company is launching speed skating derbies in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Vladivostok, Russia, in the second half of next year.
Icederby International Co. said Monday that it secured $500 million from Dar Al Salam Holding Group of Saudi Arabia and Royal Capital FZE of the United Arab Emirates to push the derby project there.
The project includes an ice derby ― a professional speed skating race where people can bet on the outcome ― as well as sports entertainment including figure skating and ice shows.
Races will be held on a 220-meter rink, involving former and current long and short track speed skaters.
“Notwithstanding its nature as gambling, an ice derby is drawing interest from many countries for its great potential to contribute to the development of tourism and economy,” Hyun Do-joung, chief executive of Icederby International, told reporters. Jeju Province put forward an ice derby bill to the National Assembly in 2011, but the legislation was scrapped as the 18th assembly closed its term without processing it.
“The skating federations of South Korea, the U.S. and Russia have been cooperative over the project, which the company has pushed since 2006,” he said. “Current and former skaters, coaches and officials seem to see the derby as justifiable in light of income guarantee for skaters and skating development.”
The company expects many skating stars to join the derby after the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in February and the World Championships in March next year.
Currently, Icederby International is seeking local partners to set up the race business in the two cities. Betting on speed skating will be a first worldwide.
“Florida, Illinois, New Jersey as well as Las Vegas have shown interest in our ice derby project, possibly for fiscal and tourism reasons,” he said. “The Vladivostok ice derby is expected to be materialized earlier than in Las Vegas. Russia is very active in developing tourism in Vladivostok and Sochi.”
The ice derby project has gained momentum from the two Middle East-based investment commitments.
Icederby International signed a $300 million investment deal with Dar Al Salam Holding Group on July 15, and a $200 million investment agreement with Royal Capital FZE on July 22.
Dar Al Salam Holding is a global investor that disclosed its intention in 2008 to invest $8 billion in the Saemangeum reclamation project.
Royal Capital is active in the fields of sports investment. Raul Silva, chief executive of Royal Capital, is said to have expressed his intention to push projects jointly with Icederby in its future derby sites, including Las Vegas and Vladivostok.
Source: The Korea Herald