ESPN is putting a whole new meaning into "flying into LAX."
ESPN’s X Games will remain in L.A.through 2009 under a deal with AEG, owner and operator of the Staples Center and The Home Depot Center, the games’ two main venues, confirming industry speculation that ESPN had been hunting for a long-term partner for the now well-established franchise.
The summer games, in their 11th installment, are ESPN’s largest production.
They had been rotating cities every two years as fan recognition built around the brand. L.A. hosted the 2003 and 2004 installments.
Under the deal, The Home Depot Center will host more competitions, with the city’s Staples Center picking up most of the rest.
Last year’s telecast drew an average 996,074 households, airing on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 – up 47 percent from the year before – and attracted some 170,000 fans to live events. The 2005 games are scheduled for Aug. 4-7.
Without having to establish relationships with a new city, ESPN will enhance the games’ live telecast with new technology, including enhanced HD camerawork, and add more events and festivals for attending fans.
“Establishing a long-term home will allow us to focus on the event and make it the best it can be for our athletes, the spectators and the advertisers alike,” said ESPN Original Entertainment SVP Ron Semiao.
The X Games launched in 1995 and now hosts more than 150 athletes in BMX Freestyle, Moto X, Skateboard, Surfing and Wakeboard.
The Winter X Games, recently extended an agreement to air from Aspen/Snowmass, Colorado, through 2007.
ESPN has previously worked with AEG, a sports and entertainment presenting subsidiary of The Anschutz Corporation, on the ESPY Awards, World Cup and Major League Soccer.