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ESPN dumps Reno

John Seelmeyer

The Great Outdoor Games spent three years at Lake Placid, N.Y.

They lasted one in Reno as ESPN Outdoors said last week that the games won’t return to Reno next year.

Nevertheless, the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority’s marketing chief said the agency learned important skills about working with events the size of the ESPN games.

“It really helped put us on the map,” said the RSCVA’s Deanna Ashby.

“We learned a lot about the ins and outs about what events such as this need from us.”

An estimated 28.5 million television viewers saw at least a portion of this year’s games, which were headquartered at Reno’s San Rafael Park in early July.

That, tourism officials said, helped bolster Reno’s efforts to reposition itself in the tourism market.

“Both from a live event and a strategic marketing standpoint, the games helped to define Reno-Tahoe as America’s Adventure Place,” said Jeff Beckelman, the chief executive officer and president of the RSCVA.

So why did ESPN decide to move the games to another location? Beckelman said the RSCVA has no reason to believe that ESPN was dissatisfied with the community.

“We have been assured that Reno- Tahoe was a great partner and that the Great Outdoor Games was considered a very successful event on all counts,” Beckelman said.

For its part, ESPN said it wants to continue moving the event to help build an audience.

“The competition was outstanding this summer, and the crowds on site were very terrific,” said Mark Quenzel, senior vice president of programming and production for ESPN.

“However, the long-term growth of the Great Outdoor Games always has been of primary importance to ESPN, and we believe that moving the event to new regions is key to its growth and success.”

Beckelman said the RSCVA feels it still has a good relationship with ESPN and will work to bring other events to the area.

In Lake Placid a year ago, a local journalist acknowledged in print that losing the games to Reno hurt, then told the community to look forward to the next event whatever it might be.