ESPN Great Outdoor Games Taking a Hike


After a record setting summer with 70,000 spectators, ESPN officials say the Great Outdoor Games will not be back.

ESPN Outdoors Director of Communications George McNeilly says, "Published reports of the city's offer were greatly exaggerated and speculative."

In the proposal, the city, county and state said they would give ESPN potential generation of more than $750,000 in cash, grants and gifts.

A proposal they said was more than fair.

Deb Archer, President/CEO of the Greater Madison Convention and Visitor Bureau, said in a December 2004 interview, "We really believe that this is the optimum package we can offer them for 2005. And we're very hopeful it's a proposal that they can live with."

They could not. McNeilly says after careful review, the amount they were guaranteed was not the amount offered.

"There were numerous obligations that when all was said and done added up to less of a host fee than ESPN received for 2004 [games in Madison]."

But the Madison Convention and Visitor Bureau says it did not exaggerate at all.

"We're sorry they feel that way," says Kim Straka, Director of Communications for the bureau, "We admit that, if you [ESPN] want this we can do this also. Some things were dependent on others but no we don't feel that at all. It was a very solid proposal."

Now both Madison and ESPN agree to disagree.

McNeilly says, "We're disappointed that we couldn't come to terms."

"We're going to go forward and continue to seek these kinds of events because we know we can host successful ones," adds Straka.

Both ESPN and Madison officials say they haven't ruled out holding the games in Madison in the future.

ESPN says it has several other options for places to hold the games this summer, but right now it's not saying where.


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