Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State's National Image Could Draw Biggest Benefit from Festival

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

State's National Image Could Draw Biggest Benefit from Festival

Article excerpt

If everything goes well, the impact of the U.S. Olympic Festival '89 on the state will be measured by what the future brings, and not simply the revenue generated.

Oklahoma City's civic leaders are rooting hard for about 500,000 people to attend the festival, which began Tuesday with the swimming competition and runs through July 30. Those kinds of attendance figures, officials say, could translate into about $40 million for the local economy.

But the television, newspaper and radio coverage of the festival is perhaps the most important aspect.

``It'll showcase Oklahoma City and the state of Oklahoma to the whole nation and the world,'' Mayor Ron Norick said. ``It'll show that we really do have a very nice city capable of doing nice things.

``The publicity as far as the city goes is just going to be phenomeal. You can't put a dollar on that.''

The festival will be televised by ESPN, which will carry 32 hours of live competition during the 13 days. The Nashville Network will carry the opening ceremonies live. The U.S. Olympic Committee issued 717 credentials to reporters and another 371 to photographers, not including those issued to ESPN.

``With a successful event, maybe it opens the door for other events down the line,'' said Jimmy Lyles, president of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. ``That's the key, as we see it.''

Lyles points to Indianapolis, which served as host of the Olympic Festival - then called the National Sports Festival - in 1982. Since that time, several major amateur events have been held in Indianapolis, including the 1987 Pan Am Games.

``They took the festival and built upon that to do other things in the community,'' Lyles said. …

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