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Volume 24 No. 114

Events and Attractions

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).

The Hawaii Tourism Authority and the NFL are "tight-lipped about the status of negotiations to keep the Pro Bowl in Honolulu as the game gets closer to Sunday’s kick-off," but some players and fans said that they "don’t want to see the game leave Hawaii," according to Mark Abramson of PACIFIC BUSINESS NEWS. NFL officials said that they are "keeping their options open when it comes to the Pro Bowl’s venue." NFL Manager of Football Information Jon Zimmer said, "At this point we have explored other sites." Zimmer "declined to name the other sites, but some media outlets have reported that the league is considering having the Pro Bowl at the same stadium as the Super Bowl the week before the big game, like it did a few years ago in Miami." Packers WR Greg Jennings said Tuesday, "I would most definitely prefer it to be here. We would definitely love to continue it over here." Cowboys DE DeMarcus Ware agreed, saying, "I would love to have it stay here, it has more of an all-star feel." Vikings DE Jared Allen said that "playing the game in Miami before the Super Bowl just doesn’t compare to playing in Hawaii." He "called that experience leading up to the Super Bowl kind of 'chaotic'" (, 1/25). Dolphins WR Brandon Marshall said, "It takes away from the game when it's somewhere else. ... This is what the Pro Bowl is about -- paradise. So it would (stink) definitely if we no longer come out here." The AP's Jaymes Song noted some players "went as far as saying they wouldn't participate if the Pro Bowl was moved." Allen said, "That's a lot of the players' attitude, I think" (AP, 1/25).

LIVE-TWEETING: The NFL announced that fans will "get a little more access to the top players in the NFL, who will now be able to tweet during the Pro Bowl." The HOLLYWOOD REPORTER's Rebecca Ford noted the league is relaxing its "infamously strict rules on social media, and allowing players to tweet during the game." Not only are players "allowed to Tweet, but the NFL is encouraging them to do so by setting up a computer on each sideline where players can use Twitter." Tweeting is "voluntary and only one player can tweet at a time." Players can also use their phones to tweet "before the game and at halftime." Players will be using #ProBowl in their tweets (, 1/25).

CHANGES NEEDED?'s Scoop Jackson writes the Pro Bowl is "not football." Jackson: "Not that it has to be a full representation of what we see every fall weekend in the NFL, but it shouldn't be this far away from the game's core. It shouldn't be this far removed from how every other game is played." The execs and "suits that make up commissioner Roger Goodell's front office staff surely have to know ... that the Pro Bowl is the most meaningless all-star game in sports." Somehow, the NFL "has to do something to get to a new iteration of this scheduled football celebration," and "soon." Jackson writes, "Change the location. Change the time and timing. Change the ancillary events, the activities and extracurriculars. Change the rules. Change the purpose, if that's what it takes. Because at this point, it serves none" (, 1/26).