SBD/January 26, 2012/Events and Attractions

Aspen Looking To Continue Hosting Winter X Games Beyond This Year

Aspen has hosted the X Games since '02 and wants to continue beyond this contract
Aspen Skiing Co. VP/Sales & Events John Rigney Tuesday said that the company “has put together as ‘compelling’ of a bid as possible to keep" the Winter X Games beyond this year, according to Scott Condon of the ASPEN TIMES. Rigney said, “We've got 10 years of history and an incredible community on our side. This should work out.” He added, “I expect we will ultimately remain home to Winter X.” Aspen has hosted the Winter X Games since ‘02, but its current contract “expires after this year's event," which begins today at Buttermilk Mountain. Rigney sent a memo to operators of Aspen's hotels, lodges and other tourist accommodations Monday asking them “to go out of their way to make ESPN officials and anyone associated with the X Games feel appreciated.” Skico “sought additional room rate concessions from the lodging community to make the package more attractive to ESPN.” Rigney's memo said Skico made a “significant increase in value” in the latest bid. The specific terms of Skico's increased offer “wasn't disclosed.” Condon noted the lodging community “contributes about 6,000 room nights during the preparation, execution and clean-up of the games.” X Games VP & GM Chris Stiepock said that there will be “no announcement during these X Games on future contacts.” He added that talks “will be held and a conclusion reached, one way or another, in about a month.” Rigney said that Skico has “concentrated on trying to ease ESPN's financial burden of presenting the X Games.” Occupancy has “soared to 98 percent in Aspen for the four-day weekend over the last decade.” Rigney said that it is the “busiest weekend of the year, bar none.” Skico has “always maintained that the X Games exposes Aspen to millions of younger skiers and riders.” However Condon noted there is “no concrete evidence that hosting the X Games has reduced the average age of Aspen's winter visitors.” Frias Properties co-Owner Chuck Frias, whose company manages residential properties in Aspen said, “The branding -- there's a huge value on that. I don't know how you put a figure on it” (ASPEN TIMES, 1/25).

GETTING AIR TIME: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL’s Tripp Mickle reported ESPN’s sales team “for the first time is giving three sponsors branded inventory within competition courses during this week’s Winter X Games.” EA Sports will have “a branded bench where competitors sit before entering the halfpipe, Red Bull will have signage on the slopestyle course and Jeep will have a vehicle displayed on the slopestyle course during competition.” ESPN sold “11 sponsorships across three categories for this year’s X Games: official partners, event sponsors and other sponsors.” Last year, it sold “25 sponsorships across five categories: official partners, multimedia sponsors, TV-only sponsors, digital-only sponsors and sponsors.” ESPN this year signed “four official sponsorships with Red Bull, Jeep, the U.S. Navy, and Verizon and Casio, which are collaborating to promote Casio’s G’zOne Ravine phone.” The North Face, Vitaminwater, EA Sports and “Act of Valor,” a film about Navy SEALs, “signed on as event sponsors and will receive on-site signage, on-site hospitality and activation rights, and TV, digital, radio and print advertising.” GoPro, GNC and Loctite signed on as “other sponsors and each received customized assets” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 1/23 issue).

ESPN, SHAZAM CUT DEAL: ESPN has struck a deal with media discovery outfit Shazam to allow content from the Winter X Games to be part of the new Shazam For TV service. Users with Shazam's mobile app installed on their tablet or smartphone will be able to access exclusive Winter X Games-related content, including music from the event, photo galleries, highlights, related social media, and other bonus material. Shazam has its roots in audio recognition technology in which its app identifies songs. Shazam For TV works similarly in which users point their device at the screen when a blue Shazam logo appears, unlocking the bonus content. The ESPN deal, marking the first entry into live programming for Shazam, will be for both Winter X Games competitions and event promos (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal).
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