USA TRACK AND FIELD ANNOUNCES TV DEAL WITH NBC
USA Track and Field Exec Dir Ollan Cassell yesterday
announced the formation of a 5-meet series of indoor track
telecasts on NBC in February and March. The meets will be shown
on consecutive Saturdays, three via tape delay, beginning with
the February 3rd Chemical Bank Millrose Games in New York. The
other meets: Reno Games, Key Corp Track & Field Classic in
Cleveland, Mobil Invitational in Northern VA and the USA Mobil
Championships in the GA Dome (USATF). BEHIND THE SCENES: The
series is a joint venture between USATF and IMG, the sports
marketing firm that owns the Millrose Games as well as the
Cleveland and Reno meets. TWI, IMG's TV arm, is producing the
meets. So far, 13 athletes have been signed, including Jackie
Joyner-Kersee and Mike Powell, with 21 more being sought. USATF
has lined up sponsors Mobil, Nike and Visa, "but at amounts lower
than originally projected" (Dick Patrick, USA TODAY, 11/18).
While Mobil and Visa have confirmed their participation, Nike
Public Relations Manager Tom Feuer noted: "We've had discussions
and correspondence with TWI, but there have been no contracts
signed." Besides producing the meets, USATF and TWI will sell ad
time during the telecasts (N.Y. TIMES, 11/18). NBC Senior VP of
Programming Jon Miller: "This circuit will give us a great
opportunity to provide [U.S.] audiences with a look at Olympic
hopefuls and build a rooting interest for the next wave of track
and field athletes who will be competing in Atlanta" (USATF).
IMG'S ROLE: Mobil wanted Boston in the series, but IMG and
USATF could not agree with the Commonwealth Invitational. The
Sunkist Invitational in L.A. wanted to join, if not for IMG.
Sunkist Exec Dir Al Franken: "I think IMG is trying to take over
the sport, and they're getting help of Ollan Cassell. But I hope
this thing flies. Track and Field really needs a shot in the
arm" (Dick Patrick, USA TODAY, 11/18). Sean McManus, TWI Senior
VP: "The Mobil Indoor Track & Field Circuit reflects IMG's
increasing commitment to the sport of track and field" (USATF).
EVERYONE HAPPY? Some athletes and their reps "are griping"
that the $1.35M paid to NBC "would be better spent in enticing
athletes to compete, claiming more stars would then have
attracted network coverage and dollars" (Mike Fish, ATLANTA