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Volume 21 No. 2

Events and Attractions

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum posted a net loss of $2.08 million in 2011, according to its recently filed tax return, the eighth year in the red in the past decade for the baseball shrine.

The fiscal loss for the Cooperstown, N.Y.-based hall during the year ended Dec. 31, 2011, narrowed by 12 percent compared with the $2.36 million loss posted in 2010. Total revenue during the year grew 7 percent to $9.23 million, thanks in part to a boost in licensing royalties.

Admissions, the largest single chunk of the hall’s revenue, remains at a relatively low point. Hall attendance has stabilized over the last two years to about 270,000 annually, but that figure is far lower than the 400,000 a year that visited in the peak years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, or even the 301,755 from 2008.

Hall executives, however, said the institution’s financial outlook remains stronger than what is visible in the tax return. Nonprofit accounting guidelines call for multiyear, charitable contributions to be recorded in the year they are pledged. As a result, there are differences between what appears in the tax return, and what is actually happening in terms of operating cash flow.

“We understand the effect of visitorship and we are finding ways to broaden our reach, so we feel OK going forward,” said Brad Horn, the hall’s senior director of communications and education.

Recent hall initiatives include a new national education and outreach program called Be A Superior Example, encouraging youths to avoid performance-enhancing drugs and embrace proper nutrition and fitness habits.

The hall on Wednesday will announce the results of voting from the Baseball Writers Association of America for its 2013 inductees. The ballot is among the most hotly debated in the institution’s 76-year history because of the first-time appearance of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, three of the most accomplished players ever but also subjects of heavy suspicion regarding steroid use.

The election results will be shown live on MLB Network and

Jeff Idelson, hall president since early 2008, earned $362,678 in total compensation during 2011, up 2 percent from the year before.

The 2012 Dew Tour had four fewer events. It drew 135,000 fewer fans. And its TV audience on NBC was the smallest in its eight-year history.

But for NBC’s Alli Sports, which runs the tour; Mountain Dew, which spends $8 million a year to title sponsor it; and a half-dozen other sponsors, the three-stop tour exceeded expectations and achieved the goal of fewer, bigger and better events. Highlights included the introduction of new disciplines, record video streams, major upticks in unique visitors to, more athlete participation, and the most cohesive and interactive sponsor village in Dew Tour history.

“It’s one of those calculated risks we took from a marketing standpoint, and we really felt like we pulled it off,” said Adam Harter, PepsiCo vice president, consumer engagement. “It started in Ocean City [Md.] where we broke the all-time attendance record. We saw a 215 percent increase in views across, and YouTube. We think it’s proving out that fewer, bigger, better events is the way to go.”

Dew Tour general manager Kenny Mitchell said, “There are a lot of things we can continue to evolve and improve, but in terms of our goal of putting together bigger, better and more exciting events, we feel like we did that.”

Alli Sports and Mountain Dew reduced the number of events for the 2012 Dew Tour from seven to three competitions because it felt that the number of action sports events offered by competitors had risen in recent years. That pulled athletes to other events and created a busy calendar where it was difficult for each Dew Tour competition to stand out. By shrinking the number of events, the Dew Tour hoped to attract athletes who skipped events in years past and free up money to build better venues and create new disciplines.

The tour traded four summer events and three winter events for stops in a beach town (Ocean City), a city (San Francisco) and a mountain resort (Breckenridge, Colo.).

It attracted a host of athletes who skipped competition in prior years. In skate, David Gonzalez, Nyjah Huston, Torey Pudwill and Brandon Westgate all turned out for the street skate competition. In BMX, Dakota Roche, Bruno Hoffmann and Matthias Dandois competed.

The tour also created two new events. In San Francisco, it built a downhill skate course with a series of urban obstacles and hosted the first streetstyle competition. It took the same event to Breckenridge and had snowboarders test their skills on a course that featured a wall to ride and a jump over a Nike-branded van.

Total attendance, which topped 184,000, exceeded the goal Alli Sports set for the first, three-event tour. Though it was less than the 320,700 spectators the tour attracted to seven events in 2011, average attendance increased 33 percent to 61,300.

Fans found an event that looked radically different from prior years. Alli Sports built dozens of activation booths that stood more than 35 feet tall and stretched more than 45 feet wide. The booths were fronted by wooden planks and topped by a white roof that was visible several blocks away, and sponsors welcomed the change.

“It was really a step up for them image-wise,” said Julie Solwold, vice president, global sports and events at Paul Mitchell, a Dew Tour sponsor. “The look makes you look better as a sponsor.”

On TV, the tour averaged 559,000 viewers for six broadcasts on NBC, a 29 percent decrease from the 789,000 viewers it averaged over eight telecasts in 2011. It averaged 38,000 viewers over 12 broadcasts on NBC Sports Network. Those viewership totals were complemented by 50 hours of live streaming that helped Dew Tour digital content increase more than 200 percent to more than 7.9 millions views across, and Dew Tour’s YouTube page.

Giovanni Tomaselli, CEO of first-time sponsor Ion Worldwide, credited the digital increases with helping boost his company’s Facebook and Twitter engagement and product sales.

“We saw a surge [in sales] beyond our expectation that was a direct reflection of what we did at Breckenridge,” Tomaselli said. “We were at least 30 percent higher than what I thought we would do.”

Alli Sports has two key sponsors up for renewal after the season. Both Toyota and Pantech are in negotiations with the tour. Jim Baudino, Toyota’s engagement marketing manager, said the company is evaluating the 2012 season and expects to make a decision soon.

A year after making its largest statement ever at the International Consumer Electronics Show, ESPN is scaling back.

ESPN last year constructed its first CES show booth, an elaborate setup that included a regulation-sized boxing ring used for 3-D TV broadcasts of Top Rank Boxing matches and “SportsNation.”

This year, however, ESPN will employ a far cheaper and more targeted plan at the Las Vegas event, which is the world’s largest trade show. Network executives will host an invitation-only party for tonight’s BCS championship game, broadcast on ESPN and ESPN 3D, and Bryan Burns, network vice president of strategic planning, will speak on a panel regarding 3-D TV. Several other network executives are slated to attend. But the company’s overall profile this week will be comparatively muted.

Even with the diminished presence of not only ESPN but several other technology heavyweights, including Microsoft, the 2013 version of CES beginning Tuesday is poised to set several event records. The show has already sold more than 1.87 million square feet of exhibit space, its largest total ever, and last year’s all-time high audited attendance of 156,153 will be challenged if not surpassed.

Among the expected CES announcements is one from electronics brand Samsung, which is promising a “new TV unlike anything the world has ever seen.” Industry buzz has suggested the new Samsung set will feature a transparent screen with a vertical, portrait-style orientation.