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USA TRACK AND FIELD ANNOUNCES TV DEAL WITH NBC
Published November 18, 1994
USA Track and Field Exec Dir Ollan Cassell yesterday announced the formation of a 5-meet series of indoor track telecasts on NBC in February and March. The meets will be shown on consecutive Saturdays, three via tape delay, beginning with the February 3rd Chemical Bank Millrose Games in New York. The other meets: Reno Games, Key Corp Track & Field Classic in Cleveland, Mobil Invitational in Northern VA and the USA Mobil Championships in the GA Dome (USATF). BEHIND THE SCENES: The series is a joint venture between USATF and IMG, the sports marketing firm that owns the Millrose Games as well as the Cleveland and Reno meets. TWI, IMG's TV arm, is producing the meets. So far, 13 athletes have been signed, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Mike Powell, with 21 more being sought. USATF has lined up sponsors Mobil, Nike and Visa, "but at amounts lower than originally projected" (Dick Patrick, USA TODAY, 11/18). While Mobil and Visa have confirmed their participation, Nike Public Relations Manager Tom Feuer noted: "We've had discussions and correspondence with TWI, but there have been no contracts signed." Besides producing the meets, USATF and TWI will sell ad time during the telecasts (N.Y. TIMES, 11/18). NBC Senior VP of Programming Jon Miller: "This circuit will give us a great opportunity to provide [U.S.] audiences with a look at Olympic hopefuls and build a rooting interest for the next wave of track and field athletes who will be competing in Atlanta" (USATF). IMG'S ROLE: Mobil wanted Boston in the series, but IMG and USATF could not agree with the Commonwealth Invitational. The Sunkist Invitational in L.A. wanted to join, if not for IMG. Sunkist Exec Dir Al Franken: "I think IMG is trying to take over the sport, and they're getting help of Ollan Cassell. But I hope this thing flies. Track and Field really needs a shot in the arm" (Dick Patrick, USA TODAY, 11/18). Sean McManus, TWI Senior VP: "The Mobil Indoor Track & Field Circuit reflects IMG's increasing commitment to the sport of track and field" (USATF). EVERYONE HAPPY? Some athletes and their reps "are griping" that the $1.35M paid to NBC "would be better spent in enticing athletes to compete, claiming more stars would then have attracted network coverage and dollars" (Mike Fish, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 11/18).