SBJ/April 25 - May 1, 2011/Olympics

USA Gymnastics, AEG partner for arena tour

USA Gymnastics and AEG have partnered to create a post-Olympics tour that will take the nation’s top gymnasts to more than 40 markets after the 2012 London Games and 2016 Rio Games.

USA GYMNASTICS
Carly Patterson starred on the 2004 tour, the last one organized by USA Gymnastics.
It is the first partnership between the two organizations and will be the first time USA Gymnastics has played a role in organizing and promoting a tour since 2004. The 2008 tour that followed the Beijing Games was organized by The Walt Disney Co., Edge Marketing and the Arena Network, with sanctioning from USA Gymnastics.

“We believe this partnership is a huge step forward for the tour,” said USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny. “We’ve never had a partnership with a company that has the global power and resources of AEG.”

Chuck Steedman, AEG Management’s senior vice president and general manager, added, “This is a great opportunity for us to be involved with a tier one product that provides unbelievable content for our venues. For us, it makes perfect sense on a variety of levels.”

AEG and USA Gymnastics are equal partners in the tour and will share in costs such as athlete compensation and revenue from ticket sales to sponsorship to merchandise. It will be marketed as the Tour of Gymnastics Champions.

The organizations plan to take the event to 40 markets between September and November 2012. Organizers will spend the rest of this year talking to AEG-owned, operated and affiliated venues as well as non-AEG venues to finalize tour stops. They will begin promoting the tour in January.

USA Gymnastics plans to tap into its 1,200 member clubs to promote and sell tickets to the tour. Individual tickets for a similar tour in 2004, the last one organized by USA Gymnastics, sold for between $15 and $45. That tour attracted 220,000 people and averaged 6,000 attendees an event.

In addition to ticket sales, USA Gymnastics and AEG plan to sell a title sponsorship and about five foundation sponsorships for the tour. USA Gymnastics partners will have right of first refusal.

AEG will negotiate compensation for athletes featured on the tour. Penny said that USA Gymnastics has developed a model that makes it possible for every Olympic team gymnast to participate in the tour. He acknowledged that if high-profile athletes like Shawn Johnson or Nastia Liukin participate in the 2012 Olympics, they would command a different level of compensation than others for participating in the tour.

The partners also held preliminary conversations about extending the tour beyond November and visiting select international venues in Europe, China and other markets where AEG owns or manages facilities.

“We believe that has some real potential,” Penny said.

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