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SBD/July 18, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
ESPN yesterday tapped Austin to host the next four domestic X Games because its bid met the network’s goals for cutting event costs and creating a festival atmosphere. The event will be held at the city’s new, 1,500-acre Circuit of the Americas (COTA), which has an amphitheater for concerts and road course for F1 races. Austin beat out bids from Charlotte, Chicago and Detroit. A domestic X Games costs an estimated $20M, and ESPN evaluated each bid’s potential cost. As a new facility capable of holding every event on-site, COTA offered a more cost efficient venue than competitors. ESPN Senior VP/Programming & Global X Games Scott Guglielmino said, “It becomes a lighter-weight model when it comes to cost here.” He added the “single footprint” COTA offers is “optimal” because it allows ESPN to create a festival with live concerts at the amphitheater and other events that extend beyond the sports competitions. Guglielmino: “You’ll be able to drive up, come through the gates and enjoy a very, very broad presentation.” ESPN initially planned to award the event to a new city for three years, but COTA execs pushed for a four-year agreement and will host the event from '14-17. Guglielmino: “We’re both incented to grow out the event. Given the footprint of the facility and what (COTA Chair Bobby Epstein) and his team have to offer, growth here in Austin is a reality for us. That’s a big, big part of it.” ESPN’s Longhorn Network will contribute to coverage of X Games Austin. The selection of Austin will see ESPN move the summer X Games event from July to mid May. Guglielmino said that was largely to avoid hosting competitions for athletes during a hot, Texas summer (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).
LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP: Guglielmino said that there is a "good chance the X Games could have a long-term home at COTA." He said, "The master plan is to not pick this event up every few years and move it to another city." Epstein said that they expect to "draw more than 60,000 fans on the weekday portions of the event and more than 100,000 fans over the weekend portion, with music and other cultural attractions taking place concurrently" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/17). In Austin, John Maher in a front-page piece notes the games will "be staged next year from May 15-18." The competition will "fall at the same time as graduation" at the Univ. of Texas. However, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell and a UT spokesperson indicated that the "confluence wouldn't create any insurmountable problems." Leffingwell: "We're going to have a lot of folk focused on Austin, even more than they are now." Epstein said of Austin's winning bid, "It was very close. I'm very proud of the thousands of people who showed up when the committee was here. That had a huge impact. ... It impressed me. That told me we were on the right track." ESPN's decision "hit hard in Detroit, where a grass-roots effort to attract the games had been embraced by young people intent on revitalizing that city" (AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN, 7/18). COTA President Steve Sexton said that 16-18 X Games athletes "live in Austin, and that a 'couple thousand people' showed up at the State Capitol to watch an exhibition when Austin was announced as one of the four finalists earlier this year" (AP, 7/17).
DETROIT'S DOWNFALL: In Detroit, Tom Walsh in a front-page piece notes the "specter of Detroit teetering on the brink in fiscal collapse did matter in ESPN’s final decision to choose Austin." ESPN’s desire to "award the games for a multiyear period meant it wanted stability, not volatility." Detroit’s bid was "a powerful one, though, aside from the threat of bankruptcy." Losing the X Games is "a reminder that Detroit will look feeble to the outside world until the fiscal cloud is lifted" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 7/18). Also in Detroit, Josh Katzenstein writes another possible "drawback for Detroit was the need to use multiple venues for the games." Local bid organizer Kevin Krease said that the final proposal "had most events happening at Ford Field, but secondary events -- like music or art festivals -- would've been off-site." All of the activity in Austin "will be on or around" COTA (DETROIT NEWS, 7/18). Guglielmino: "In terms of bankruptcy; the reality is we made our decision based on many factors. I think the revitalization story is a very, very interesting one. But certainly from a volatility standpoint sure, (bankruptcy) is something we got to factor in" (MLIVE.com, 7/17). The Detroit bid group in a statement on their Facebook page said, "We are not walking away, and we don't believe the movement of people who have gotten behind this cause are either. ... Over the last few weeks we've realized that ultimately it's probably more fitting that we just create that medium ourselves. So that's what we're going to do. We're going to create our own 'X Games.' We're not entirely sure what this looks or sounds like yet, but we'll have details made public in the coming weeks" (THE DAILY).
AS THE SEASONS TURN: In Denver, Jason Blevins notes ESPN is "reviewing potential hosts for the Winter X Games because its deal with the Aspen Skiing Co. ends in 2014." Proposals from potential hosts -- which "initially included Aspen; Park City, Utah; Quebec City; and a collaboration of California resorts around Lake Tahoe -- were due in June." Guglielmino said that his team "would be focusing on Winter X bids now that the Summer X site was decided." A final decision on the Winter X Games site from '15-17 will "be announced by the fall" (DENVER POST, 7/18).
The Twins are now on the clock following Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, and the first event to "kick off All-Star ’14 comes later this month, when the Twins and MLB unveil the event’s official logo," according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The logo "will be plastered everywhere, including on the center field wall and, next year, on the shoulders of Twins uniforms." Twins President Dave St. Peter said, "In New York, I don’t care what you do, it has a tendency to get lost. We clearly intend to paint the town.” Miller reports the Twins are "organizing a parade of all-stars to the stadium, coordinating an enormous security effort between a half-dozen different agencies, and discussing traffic issues, given that it will be a normal work week at most downtown businesses." The club also must "develop a transportation plan ... to deliver thousands of visitors to the various events, and to hotels." The City Council must "approve a 'clean zone' to prohibit ambush marketing by non-sponsors, and extra enforcement of counterfeit merchandise laws." Miller notes one "great benefit to Target Field’s location is that the perimeter of All-Star events and hotels might be contained within a 10-block radius, meaning a sizable number of people can just walk the skyways to get where they need to go." St. Peter: “Indianapolis got rave reviews when it hosted the Super Bowl, and the biggest reason was that everything was downtown. We’re going to try to replicate that model.” However, Miller writes finding room is going to be an "issue everywhere." All-Star Games now "make 'sponsor zones' part of the experience, a state-fair-like area for Major League Baseball’s partners to reach customers and display their wares." Twins Senior VP/Operations Matt Hoy: "It's a great attraction, but we just don't have that kind of space" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 7/18).
FANFEST A HIT IN N.Y.: MLB said it drew an attendance of 129,849 for the five-day All-Star Game FanFest at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in N.Y., the event's second-best total ever. The figure trails only the 150,804 for the '09 FanFest in St. Louis, and is 9% higher than last year's FanFest at Kauffman Stadium in K.C. (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club's opening-day crowd yesterday "dropped to the lowest it has been since 2007" with 43,030 in attendance after "six straight years of record attendance and the crowd growing each year for the last eight openers," according to Ed Zieralski of the SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE. However, DMTC President & GM Joe Harper said of the crowd, "Any time we can get over 40,000 in here, I can’t complain." Those in attendance "bet 2½ percent more" than the $4.4M bet in '12 despite the lower attendance, and the handle from all sources was up 4% to $14.7M. Harper said that food and beverage sales also "increased" over last year’s $1.3M (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 7/18). Harper said, "I'm delighted with the attendance numbers. It was a very profitable day" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 7/18). In L.A., Eric Sondheimer writes the crowd at Del Mar "showed up on Wednesday to create a party-like atmosphere." The demographics "usually missing from racetracks -- young fans and women -- were plentiful" yesterday (L.A. TIMES, 7/18).DEL MAR OPENING DAY ATTENDANCE TRENDYEARATTENDANCE'1343,030'1247,339'1146,588'1045,309'0944,907'0843,459'0742,842'0642,005'0540,046'0439,346'0340,682
The Wyndham Championship, having "embraced its date on the PGA Tour calendar and locked up major corporate sponsors" through '16, is a "more solid regional event with a bright future," according to Owen Covington of the BUSINESS JOURNAL OF THE GREATER TRIAD AREA. The event is the final stop in the PGA Tour's regular season and "increasingly draws top players, along with more -- and more supportive -- sponsors." There was a time before the tournament moved to Sedgefield Country Club and landed Wyndham as a title sponsor that former PGA Tour golfer and current SiriusXM Radio host John Maginnes "wasn't sure if the tournament was going to make it." He said, "The golf tournament was a charitable organization masquerading as a golf tournament. Now it's a business masquerading as a golf tournament, and a charitable entity." Tournament Dir Mark Brazil: "When I got here, we were doing a lot of arm-twisting. Now we see our sponsors coming to us because of the value proposition we give them. Covington reported the course's boardwalk area will become "Margaritaville at the Wyndham" this year with a sponsorship by Margaritaville Holdings. Brazil said that the last tournament slot also "garners the tournament increased mentions during other broadcasts." He added that beyond the "very top tournaments ... the Wyndham ranked second for broadcast mentions" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 7/16). In Greensboro, Ed Hardin noted Margaritaville at the Wyndham will include "island-inspired music on Radio Margaritaville with cold beer and food and live music and, well, noise that sponsors hope will give the tournament a more lively feel and festive sound." The live show will "start Tuesday through Sunday afternoons as soon as play has cleared from the first hole." Brazil said that the tournament has "all but sold out of sponsorship opportunities for this year," adding that both pro-ams are filled (Greensboro NEWS & RECORD, 7/17).
SENIOR MOMENT: GOLF WORLD's Bill Fields notes the total attendance for the U.S. Senior Open at Omaha Country Club last week "wasn't quite the equal of Des Moines -- 157,126 for three practice rounds and four days of competition -- but more than 30,000 people were on hand each of the final two rounds and 8,000 showed up on Monday." Moreover, thanks in part to the "presence of five Fortune 500 companies in Nebraska's largest city, the USGA set a Senior Open record for corporate hospitality with sales of" $5.6M. There were "more than 3,000 volunteers, the list to help having been closed nine months prior to the event" (GOLF WORLD, 7/22 issue).