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GOODWILL GAMES END WITH JUDGES DIVIDED ON ITS PERFORMANCE
Published August 3, 1998
The Goodwill Games concluded last night, and "by most standards" they were "a success," according to Frank Litsky of the N.Y. TIMES, who writes that the competition "generally ranged from good to excellent," the athletes were "happy," and although there "were many empty seats," the crowds "were often enthusiastic." Litsky writes that this year's event "lost money," but "not as much" as the first three Games, which lost a combined $109M. Games President Mike Plant: "We always use the word investment. We provide an opportunity for world-class athletes to compete" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/4). On L.I., John Jeansonne writes that the Games "were run at the highest level of competence," adding that the event "accomplished [its] primary goal, which was to provide 45 hours of live programming" for Turner Sports and "heavy synergy" for the Time Warner communications empire. Attendance "was small," with no sellouts. The biggest single-event gate was 11,307 for the women's gold-medal soccer game, followed by 10,558 for Saturday night's figure skating final. Jeansonne reports that although "conventional wisdom" is that low ticket sales indicate "nobody cared," Plant pointed out that the event's "first priority was TV programming" (NEWSDAY, 8/3). Plant said that "several" sponsors have already inquired about renewals, "which is a big first for these Games." Final ratings for the Games are expected to average "about" 1.7, and Turner Sports VP/Public Relations Greg Hughes said those numbers are comparable to the net's average rating for Braves telecasts, adding "for 15 nights, three hours a night, it's a solid performance" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 8/4). Games officials' "stated goal" of selling 400,000 tickets "was not met," according to Plant, who said that the final figure "should be in the 350,000 range" (Bergen RECORD,8/2). REAX: Media opinion varied as to the relative success of the Games. On L.I., Ken Moritsugu wrote that while the economic benefit "was limited at best" for local businesses, Long Island sports boosters called the event a success because it put them in a position "to attract future competitions by showcasing the local athletic venues" and by demonstrating that the area can host a "mega-event without major glitches." Moritsugu reported, however, that some L.I. officials "were disappointed" by the "lack of local excitement" over the Games, and pointed out that "empty seats were common" at skating and track events. Some felt that Turner didn't do enough local promotion for the Games, and Nassau County Sports Commission Chair Gary Wadler called the event "one of the best-kept secrets" (NEWSDAY, 8/3). In N.Y., Lenn Robbins writes under the header "Take These Games And Shove 'Em." Noting that Plant called the N.Y. market a "challenging" one in which to hold the Games, Robbins writes, "So why was New York chosen in the first place to host these games? If Plant & Co. aren't naive they are foolish. ... Good riddance" (N.Y. POST, 8/3). In NJ, Pat Borzi reports that the Games "started off moderately interesting, [but] then faded." Borzi: "Speed sells, and the Games didn't have enough" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/3). Also in NJ, Steve Adamek wrote that on the NY metro radar screen, "these games barely made a blip" (RECORD, 8/2). GOODWILL NOTING: Plant "confirmed" that Games officials are "close" to finalizing plans to stage a Winter Goodwill Games in Lake Placid, NY, in 2000 (NEWSDAY, 8/2)....Saturday night, Games officials "charged just" $5 to sit in Nassau Coliseum's upper deck for the figure skating finals. The seats had been going for $28. After "less than" 6,000 attended the first three nights of competition, Saturday night drew a crowd of 10,558 (Bergen RECORD, 8/2). ...This weekend's Games on CBS and TBS used Symah Vision Inc.'s EPSIS Boards virtual signage technology during beach volleyball, when ads for Turner nets including CNN, CNN/SI and TNT appeared. It marked the Games' first use of virtual ads (THE DAILY)....Plant, on whether he was concerned that paralyzed Chinese gymnast Sang Lan's parents would sue: "I have no feeling that that ever would be a concern. But, yes, we can cover whatever is out there. We have more insurance than I've ever seen" (NEWSDAY, 8/2). ...Nassau County expects "at least" $2.5M in sales tax revenue, a "small fraction" of the County's annual sales tax revenues, which are usually in excess of $700M (NEWSDAY, 8/2).