Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Skateboarding festival will boost region's image, county told

Event promoters ask $50K

By Dan Klepal
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Greater Cincinnati Sports Corp. is asking Hamilton County commissioners for $50,000 to help it host a professional skateboarding festival this summer.

        The event, called the Mobile Skatepark Series, would be held May 25 through June 2 at either Sawyer Point downtown or Forest Fair Mall.

        Leslie Spencer, director of events for the sports corporation, said her organization must make a $15,000 payment for television fees no later than Friday. Another $15,000 payment must be made by May 1.

        The nine-day event would generate six hours of national television programming, most likely on ESPN.

        Commissioners will consider the request Wednesday, but are unlikely to act on it for about a week.

        Commissioner John Dowlin questioned how much the event would bring into Hamilton County.

        “Here we are in late February and we're talking about an event in May,” Mr. Dowlin said. “It just seems like it's a Johnny-come-lately.”

        The sports corporation gave commissioners a packet of information about the festival that says it will be attended by 60,000 to 90,000 people, some 10,000 of whom will be from out of town.

        The material says the event will generate $2.7 million in revenue — $1.25 million of it in “direct national media coverage.”

        Ms. Spencer said it is unclear how much cash her organization will ask from the City of Cincinnati.

        “We're in the process of approaching the city,” Ms. Spencer said. “This event will generate quite a bit of national television exposure, which we desperately need in the city.”

        Hamilton County Administrator Dave Krings said whatever money is spent in Hamilton County would go directly to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors bureau.

        “This event has no history with the county,” Mr. Krings said. “I have no research which would attest to the validity of their revenue projections.”

        Commissioner Tom Neyer said he's willing to act quickly — one way or the other.

        “I don't know if it's a good idea or a bad idea,” Mr. Neyer said.


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