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Dozens of companies, from BankAmerica, TransAmerica, Pacific Bell and NationsBank to CA-based companies such as Callidus Software, PeopleSoft and Hartmann Studios, have each paid "more than" $120,000 for hospitality tents at the '98 U.S. Open at the Olympic Club, according to Swartz & Howe of the S.F. CHRONICLE. Overall, 152 companies are spending "an estimated" $11M to rent space at the Open, and that doesn't include food or alcohol. All fees for tent- renting go to the USGA. There are four "tent villages" at the Open, each housing several 40-foot-by-40-foot air conditioned and carpeted tents. For the fee of over $120,000, companies can rent the tent for the week, as well as receive over 100 Open tickets, at least 40 parking passes and other amenities (S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/17). IS IT WORTH IT? Caddilus, a San Jose-based start-up software company, is spending more than $160,000 during the Open to bring the company "to the attention" of top execs. Senior VP/Marketing Phil Ressler said that he "could have launched his marketing campaign" at this week's PC Expo in N.Y. at a cost of about $80,000, but that "everybody else in the corporate software business is there, too." J.P. Morgan bought half of a tent for $65,000 for the week, and is splitting the cost among four divisions in the company. The company brought in NBC's Johnny Miller to talk with some "favored customers." BankAmerica's tent is "modeled after the TV series 'Cheers,'" and the company will bring in Masters champ Mark O'Meara to speak to a group of VIP customers (Swartz & Howe, S.F. CHRONICLE, 6/17).
FIFA President Sepp Blatter said that Iranian exile groups have threatened to disrupt the Iran-U.S. match on Sunday in Lyon, according to USA TODAY's Fred Coleman. Blatter refused to "comment on possible groups involved or actions contemplated," and he "expressed confidence" that French police could handle any problems (USA TODAY, 6/18). OTHER NOTES: In N.Y., Michael Starr writes that while ABC Sports is "happy" with its 3.1 average rating for three games, spokesperson Mark Mandel said that the U.S.'s Sunday game "could determine how the network fares for the rest of its World Cup coverage." In other news, Univision is more than doubling its ratings in the N.Y. market with its Cup coverage. Games in its 8:00-10:30am time-slot have averaged a 1.9 rating, up 90% from the 1.0 it averaged in May. Numbers in the 11:00am-1:30pm time slot have increased 75% to a 2.1. Nationally, Univision "measures its ratings in Hispanic households only, and thus far" has averaged a 9.7 rating through 13 matches (N.Y. POST, 6/18).
The theme for this summer's ESPN X Games is "big," as the sports network "is trying to provide a 'bigger experience' for families," according to Caitlin Rother of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. In an effort to make the event more fan-friendly, Games organizers have added 2,000 more bleacher seats this year, and plan "more activities to entertain spectators between competitions, better access for the handicapped and more dining choices in a new food court." X Games spokesperson Chris Stiepock: "We're trying to do more things that a family can go to." The games begin tomorrow with qualifying events and officially get underway next Friday. Events will run through June 28, and ESPN plans nearly 40 hours of coverage (UNION-TRIBUNE, 6/18). USA TODAY's Sal Ruibal previews the X Games today under the header, "Still Cool, X Games Getting Hot." Although Nike "dropped" its Games sponsorship this year, adidas America replaced it "just one week later." In-line aggressive skater Eitan Kramer, on the public perception of the event: "In the beginning, the X Games were looked upon as just another corporation trying to make money off our sports. Now it's as American as apple pie" (USA TODAY, 6/18).