SBD/2/Events Attractions

U.S. SOCCER LOOKS TO CAPITALIZE ON WORLD CUP -- AGAIN

          The U.S. Soccer Federation, IMG and Nike are examining
     ways to increase interest in the U.S. National soccer team
     after the World Cup, according to USA TODAY's Michael
     Hiestand.  The three organizations are looking to boost
     awareness of TV games "outside the Cup," which have
     traditionally drawn low ratings.  TWI Senior VP Bruce
     Horowitz, the arm of IMG which will produce and sell the
     U.S. team games, has said "there's no rhyme or reason"
     behind the scheduling of non-Cup games, adding, "they just
     appear."  Horowitz proposes to create games that "mean
     something," with matches played in the first three months of
     the year and sponsors putting up "prize money to create
     matches where players are more motivated."  With ABC's TV
     rights to the U.S. team expiring this year, U.S. Soccer "has
     a long wish list" for its next partner, including a cable TV
     package for its women's team and the addition of virtual
     signage.  U.S. Soccer may also insert 15-second TV spots
     during "natural breaks in game play" to allow for more
     advertising.  Also under examination is whether U.S. games
     carried by Spanish-language TV networks are hurting the
     broadcast network numbers.  For its part, Nike, which has a
     10-year deal with U.S. Soccer worth about $120M, and is
     spending about $30-40M on its World Cup sponsorship, is
     looking to sponsor a TV show "meant to sell soccer stars to
     kids" (Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY, 6/2).
          WORLD CUP NOTES: Nike has designed a soccer-based theme
     park at the Parc de la Defense in downtown Paris (Michael
     Grange, Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/2)....Canadian officials
     expect the World Cup to increase sales of sports-lottery
     tickets in that country.  In '94, the World Cup drew more
     than C$3.1M in betting action for 52 games on Ottawa's Pro
     Line betting sheets.  That marked an average of C$59,707 a
     game, which is "only lower" than the C$100,006 per NFL game
     betting average and the $89,171 per NHL game average
     (Toronto GLOBE & MAIL, 6/2)....In France, striking pilots
     have "grounded" Air France, "threatening disruptions" during
     the World Cup.  In Paris, Barry James writes that the strike
     has "jeopardized France's attempt to use the World Cup to
     project an image of modernity ... and elegance."  Air France
     had "pledged to provide 150 special flights during the first
     round of the Cup (INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, 6/2).
          BRAZIL'S HERO: Brazilian star Ronaldo is profiled in
     DETAILS by Po Bronson under the header, "Ronaldo: The
     Phenomenon."  Ronaldo has his own Nike clothing line as part
     of an endorsement deal rumored to be worth "at least" $25M
     over ten years, "by far the most of any soccer player"
     (DETAILS, 6/98).  In Miami, Michelle Kaufman profiles
     potential break-through stars playing in the World Cup. 
     Kaufman: "Who will emerge as stars this summer?  The
     likeliest candidate is Ronaldo" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/2). 

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