ESPN, Inc. has selected Philadelphia to host the next two X Games, the first and definitive multi-event competition for action sports, beginning with the seventh annual event, August 17-23, 2001. The announcement was made by ESPN President George Bodenheimer, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge, Philadelphia Mayor John Street, Comcast President Brian Roberts and Comcast Spectacor Ventures’ President Peter Luukko.
The X Games showcases 350 of the world’s best action sport athletes competing in a variety of sports categories for medals and nearly $1 million in total prize money. “ESPN is truly excited that the X Games will be hosted by the great sports city of Philadelphia,” said Bodenheimer. “The X Games is a premier event and a growing favorite of young people around the globe. We look forward to working with Philadelphia and Comcast at their wonderful venues on what we’re certain will be the best X Games yet.”
Under the terms of the two-year agreement signed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, Comcast Cable and Comcast-Spectacor, competitions in aggressive in-line skating, bicycle stunt riding, skateboarding, freestyle motocross and sportclimbing will be held inside and around the First Union Center, which will serve as the primary venue (Aug. 17-23). This inside/outside setup will mark a new expansion to the scope of an X Games venue. All events are free and open to the public.
Wakeboarding is scheduled to take place on the Schuylkill River (dates TBD), while Downhill BMX will be held at Woodward Camp in Woodward, Pa, Saturday, Aug. 11 and Sunday, Aug. 12. A location for street luge has yet to be finalized.
“We work hard to showcase Pennsylvania to the world,” said Ridge. “That’s why we’re so proud that ESPN’s X Games will come to Pennsylvania. The X Games will help us show off what an exciting state Pennsylvania is for young people to live in and visit — with an exciting array of sporting events, outdoor excursions and cultural activities. Congratulations to Philadelphia for the work they have done to secure these games — games in which we all win!”
Mayor Street added: “This is great news for Philadelphia and for our growing tourism and hospitality industries. Last summer, we hosted a major political convention that far exceeded our revenue making expectations – the X Games’ selection of Philadelphia for its 2001 and 2002 games will have an economic impact of more than $40 million including sales of 10,000 hotel room nights each year. I want to thank ESPN, the Comcast Corporation and Comcast-Spectacor and the X Games for their vision in selecting us. Their decision helps to further solidify our reputation as a city with real world-class amenities and real world-class mentality towards hospitality. I am also convinced this will encourage other national and international venues to consider our warm and friendly city for their activities.”
Comcast, with 8.2 million cable subscribers and one of ESPN’s largest affiliates, will be a marketing partner of the Games and is owner of the First Union Center, the South Philadelphia home to the 76ers and Flyers professional sports teams, which will serve as the primary X Games venue.
“Comcast is proud to help Philadelphia host premier international events like the X Games,” said Roberts. “With our growing roster of television and communications offerings and a first-class sports arena and facilities, Comcast is committed to providing the resources to help make Philadelphia’s first X Games the best ever.”
Luukko added: “We are extremely excited to be a part of this excellent event. The First Union Center and Spectrum provide Philadelphia with an incredible opportunity to host such prestigious events such as the X Games and this past summer’s Republican National Convention. With exposure for not only the facility, but the entire City of Philadelphia and its surrounding region on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC-TV, Philadelphia will truly become a major tourist attraction and destination for visitors, as well as other top-notch events.”
According to a recent Harris Interactive Survey, ESPN’s X Games is the second most appealing sporting event to kids in the U.S. aged 6 to 17. The X Games placed just behind the Olympic Games, in appeal to those kids aware of the event.
ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC Sports will combine to televise more than 25 original hours of X Games coverage, while ESPN International will distribute the Games worldwide. In addition, EXPN.com, the year-round home for action sports and culture, and ESPN.com will offer extensive coverage, including streaming video from the X Games.
The City of San Francisco hosted the past two X Games. The 2000 event attracted an estimated 201,000 spectators over the course of seven days of competition and produced an estimated $42 million in economic impact (Source: The City of San Francisco). The first two X Games were held in Rhode Island in 1995 and ’96. The event moved to California for two years in San Diego (1997, ’98).
ESPN owns and operates a variety of events in addition to the X Games, including the Winter X Games, Great Outdoor Games, ESPY Awards, X Trials, Tony Hawk Tour, B3 (Bikes, Blades and Boards) and more. The company recently announced plans for a major global expansion of the X franchise, with X Games qualifiers scheduled to be held on five continents and the debut of the X Games Global Challenge in 2002. Comcast Corporation (www.comcast.com) is principally involved in the development, management and operation of broadband cable networks, and in the provision of electronic commerce and programming content.
Comcast Cable is the third largest cable company in the United States and, incorporating pending cable transactions, will serve more than 8.2 million subscribers. Comcast’s commerce and content businesses include majority ownership of QVC, Comcast-Spectacor, Comcast SportsNet, and The Golf Channel, a controlling interest in E! Entertainment Television, and other programming investments.