Thursday, November 5, 2009


(Photo: Triathlete/philanthropist Steve Gunther, the man who wouldn't let "The Banquet" die.)

The Minnesota Multisport Awards were born in 1999. They were designed to pay tribute to those tri-and-du-athletes who set the unusually high performance standards in our state.

There was no awards ceremony in '99. The awards were hand-delivered to the recipients at their homes or businesses.

The inaugural MMA Banquet was held at the Commodore Hotel in St. Paul in 2000. The facility could accommodate about 100 people, which was immediately inadequate. The event drew 104 attendees.

The MMAs were held at the University Club on Summit Avenue in 2001 and 2002, attracting close to 200 attendees each time, which exceeded the facility's capacity. In '02 the Academy Awards-style presentation, wherein athletes presented the awards, was implemented.

The Event was staged at the larger and more elegant Downtown University Club, which could accommodate approximately 250 guests, in 2003 and 2004.

In 2005 the MMAs were moved to The Depot in downtown Minneapolis.

The cost of producing what had come to be known simply as "The Banquet" was beyond prohibitive. The 2005 Event cost approximately $25,000, of which $13K was recovered in the form of ticket and sponsor booth/table sales. (NOTE: A huge percentage of the cost--$10K--went to Final Frame, the company that filmed several races, hundreds of athletes and edited and produced the Event's music video and the video highlights of the 40-or-so award nominees. Final Frame was a budding enterprise and provided their services for much less than they were worth.)

The MMAs would live on, winners would be announced in the media and awards would be mailed, but it appeared that "The Banquet" was dead.

Enter Steve Gunther (pictured) and company.

Steve and his committee revamped "The Banquet," now also known as "TriNight." The Program was expanded while costs were trimmed and ticket prices were significantly reduced.

Thanks, Steve!