SBD/May 29, 2013/Events and Attractions

Going To Extremes: Detroit, Charlotte Ramp Up Bids To Land ESPN's X Games

Detroit's X Games pitch included an outdoor downtown party with live music
ESPN officials visiting possible X Games venues around downtown Detroit yesterday said that they were "impressed by the city's bid," according to Josh Katzenstein of the DETROIT NEWS. Local bid organizers Kevin Krease and Garret Koehler "tried to make a strong impression with their grassroots campaign," and held a "raucous party" at Campus Martius Park in downtown to cap the night. After more meetings today, ESPN officials will visit the other finalist cities: Chicago, Charlotte and Austin. The network next month will announce the host cities for '14-16 (DETROIT NEWS, 5/29). In Detroit, Katzenstein noted Krease and Koehler started looking into the possibility of hosting last August, they "thought they were working on a bid [only] for the 2016 games, thinking Detroit would be a good destination for the games as they expanded internationally." Krease said, "We were convinced from Day 1 that the brand alignment for the X Games is perfect for Detroit at this point in time. The Detroit that we know and love sort of (has) a gritty sense of identity. Then we were convinced by the impact the event could make economically, and then also just helping us sell the city." Krease said that he "began building a relationship with ESPN in August, and when the network announced an official bid process in October, everything kicked into high gear." Krease and Koehler have treated the bid "like a learning experience and have tried to talk to someone at ESPN weekly throughout the process." Krease thinks that they have "worked harder than the groups in the other cities that regularly bid on events" (DETROIT NEWS, 5/28).

In Charlotte, Jonathan Jones in a front-page piece reported Charlotte Motor Speedway and city officials are prepping their X Games bid and "hope to impress the network’s decision-makers" on their June 4-5 visit to zMax Dragway, "which is a finalist to host the event for three years beginning in 2014." A win for Charlotte "would mean topping Detroit’s strong fan support, Chicago’s large media market and the younger demographic of Austin, Texas." But both CMS and Cabarrus County tourism officials "see a practical advantage to hosting" the X Games. The facilities "are in place, and the speedway has experience operating big events." While some X Games events, such as BMX racing and motocross, will "require construction," the "infrastructure is in place." NASCAR driver and X Games participant Travis Pastrana said that "going to a new area" is "part of what makes the Charlotte area a great fit" to be host (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 5/25).
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