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ESPN kicks off coverage of its Winter X Games today from Crested Butte, CO, on ESPN and ESPN2. ABC will carry an hour of coverage Saturday. The Games end Sunday. THEY GO TO EXTREMES: USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal reported that the Summer and Winter X Games combined have a budget of "just" $15M, "yet they probably will turn a bigger profit for Disney than its NFL telecasts." All available ad slots are purchased, and Nike, AT&T, Mountain Dew, Pringles, Taco Bell and Volkswagen "are locked in for future X Games." ESPN Senior VP Jeff Ruhe: "After three years, we're in the black and turning blacker" (USA TODAY, 1/15). ESPN Coordinating Producer Jamie Reynolds said the net's coverage -- costing $5M -- would not just be "eye candy": "Personality is a huge hook for us" (Colorado Spr GAZETTE TELEGRAPH, 1/16). In Denver, Scott Willoughby reported that with 300 athletes, a temporary staff of more than 1,000 and another 400-plus volunteers, "the X Games are being touted as this winter's biggest sporting event next to the Nagano Olympics." ESPN's broadcast is expected to reach 221 million homes in 120 countries and will be aired in 20 languages. Crested Butte Special Events Dir Gina Kroft, on the Games' impact on the town: "The awareness we've gained just from the [X Games spokesperson] Evel Knievel commercials has already made it worthwhile" (POST, 1/11).
The NFL, Coca-Cola and Sprint will team-up again to present The NFL Experience, January 16-18 and 22-25, adjacent to the Super Bowl in San Diego. The NFL Experience features a combination of more than 50 interactive games, displays and entertainment attractions. More than 125,000 fans are expected to attend over the event's two weekends (NFL Experience). FL-based Entry Media has reached agreement with NFLP which will bring Turnstile Advertising, with Turnstile AdSleeve Armcovers, to the NFL Experience during the Super Bowl. Coca-Cola and Sprint will be the sponsors on the turnstiles (Entry Media).
The NHL "hopes to draw about 50,000 fans" to the Pinnacle.NHL FANtasy "interactive hockey theme park" at the Pacific Coliseum, according to John MacKie of the VANCOUVER SUN. The exhibition takes up 250,000-square-feet of space in five Pacific National Exhibition buildings. Interactive displays allow fans to test their goaltending skills, clock their slapshot or test their stickhandling ability. MacKie wrote that the "biggest lure" is getting your photo taken with the Stanley Cup for $5, or free with your own camera (VANCOUVER SUN, 1/15). The PROVINCE's Paul Chapman reported that sales from the '98 FANtasy "have already surpassed" sales from events in Boston and San Jose. Chapman: "No matter how crazy they got in San Jose's Shark Tank, there's no mistaking Vancouver is a hockey town" (PROVINCE, 1/14). HOT SHOT: Wayne King, a 37-year-old electronics technician from Dayton, OH, will have the chance to win $5M in the Norelco/NHL SuperSkills $5 Million Challenge. King will take four shots at four targets in eight seconds. For each target he hits, he will win $1M. If he hits all four, he wins $5M. The event will take place during ESPN's "All- Star Saturday" Skills Competition (Norelco).