Saturday, March 15, 2003

What's the Buzz?

Extreme games return to city

About 200 of the world's top skaters will ollie and kick-flip their way back to Cincinnati over the Memorial Day weekend with the return of the Mobile SkatePark Series at Sawyer Point.

Cincinnati is one of six U.S. stops for the extreme sports competition and music festival, which will bring the best in skateboarding, freestyle BMX and aggressive inline to the Ohio River bank May 23-27.

Last year, the festival brought 70,000 kids, parents and extreme sports lovers for an economic punch of about $2.7 million. It even featured an open half pipe at Sawyer Point so kids could complete their favorite gravity-defying skating tricks.

Despite the economic benefit, however, Hamilton County Commissioner Phil Heimlich led an effort to slash $75,000 in promotional funds the county had approved. So the Greater Cincinnati Sports Corp. is attempting to raise sponsorship dollars for the summer kickoff event to make up for the funding shortfall.

Skateboarding and extreme sports have come a long way since Southern California's banana board days three decades ago. Now, many of the nation's largest cities aggressively vie for the sport's Super Bowl event, the X Games, which attracted about 62 million TV viewers during several days last year.

Ken Alltucker

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