Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Minnesota
The Grand Portage Passage, one of the nation's premier dog sled races, will be scaled back because of dwindling casino revenues, the tribe announced. Success of a new casino in Thunder Bay, Ontario, cut into the business of a casino run by the band. The casino has provided the financial lifeblood for the 315-mile race since its inception three years ago. The 12-dog-per-sled competition, which attracted some of the biggest names in the sport to Two Harbors last January, has been canceled. The less prestigious and much less costly eight-dog, 100-mile race from Thunder Bay's Old Fort William to Grand Portage on Lake Superior's North Shore, will continue. 'It is our hope to keep the event alive with the eight-dog race,'' Tribal Chairman Norman Deschampe said. The longer event may be revived in the future when and if the tribe is on better economic footing, he said. The purse for last year's 12-dog race exceeded $80,000, with $15,000 going to the first-place finisher, Doug Swingley of Lincoln, Mont., a racer who went on to win Alaska's Iditarod as well. 'The race is something we are very proud of, so this was not done lightly,'' said Keli Corcoran, marketing director of the Grand Portage Lodge & Casino.