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DID NIKE WORLD MASTERS GAMES "FALL SHORT OF EXPECTATIONS"?
Published August 28, 1998
Organizers predict that the Nike World Masters Games will finish with an operating "deficit of about" $500,000, according to Jeff Manning of the Portland OREGONIAN, who wrote, "Although disappointing, the shortfall is a relatively modest sum for an organization that for months danced on the edge of a financial precipice." The "low point" for the Games came in March, when, according to three World Masters Games board members, the event's primary lender, U.S. Bancorp, "demanded that the organization repay its three-months' overdue loan, reportedly between" $800,000 and $1M. Manning wrote that the organization struggled with a "revenue crunch brought on by disappointing athlete participation and slow sponsorship sales," and that the Games' "numerous financial challenges led to tension" between the Games' board and its CEO Doug Single. Organizers also said they found that Nike's presence as title sponsor of the event "hampered other sponsorship sales." Single said that he was "convinced" that traditional Olympic sponsors turned down the World Games "because of Nike's presence." Single: "They said no, and they said no in a major way." Manning added that the "good news for the Games' suppliers and lenders" is that the organizing committee "appears to have the resources to pay off the bulk of its obligations" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/27). THE BUZZ: In Portland, Rachel Bachman wrote that some athletes and sponsors said the event "fell short of their expectations and of officials' plans." Bachman: "The short answer is money -- or lack of it. Lagging registrations led to a cash shortage, which forced Games organizers to cut back on everything" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/27). THE NIKE FACTOR: Bachman wrote that because Nike was the event's title sponsor, paying $500,000 for that right, "many athletes mistakenly blame" organizers for the "event's shortcomings. Some athletes said they planned to boycott Nike." Cyclist & Bowler Ivanna Teneycke: "If I had any Nike stock, I'd sell it." Nike Dir of Global Community Affairs Doug Stamm: "We've put considerably more money and time and personnel to these Games than would ever be expected for a similar sponsorship" (Portland OREGONIAN, 8/27).