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OLYMPIC BILLBOARDS SENT PACKING BY FEDERAL JUDGE
Published May 4, 1995
The sponsors of the '96 Games in Atlanta were dealt a "marketing setback" as a federal judge refused to allow a city ordinance that would have permitted "as many as 25 gargantuan billboards" in the Atlanta area, according to Lyle Harris of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The order is the result of a lawsuit filed by one of the city's largest billboard owners, Outdoor Systems, Inc. The megasigns would have been as tall as 90 feet, and as wide as 40 feet. The ordinance would have also stipulated 80% of the signs be Olympic-related, with the remaining 20% retained for advertising logos, symbols, or slogans. ACOG officials were instrumental in helping city officials craft the ordinance in order to satisfy sponsors who paid as much as $40M for sponsorship rights. The large signs would have overshadowed competitors' smaller billboards that could be present in Atlanta during the Olympics. U.S. District Judge William O'Kelley found the ordinance in violation of free speech rights and equal protections guarantees. Outdoor Systems' Randy Romig: "I'm concerned about the image of the outdoor advertising industry, and I thought the size of these signs was outrageous" (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 5/4).