Expectations are high for the Sept. 20-23 sports extravaganza, dubbed the Toyota Challenge. State officials and tour organizers estimated that 100,000 people will be drawn to EnergySolutions Arena and surrounding streets to watch 150 athletes compete in six disciplines - skateboarding (park and vert), BMX (park, vert and dirt) and freestyle motocross.
The event is projected to generate $12 million to $15 million for the state's economy, said Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. As a motocross enthusiast, he could not disguise his personal pleasure at unveiling the news and engaging in biking banter with three young legends of the action sports circuit - motocross stars Travis Pastrana and Ronnie Renner, and BMX champ Tim "Fuzzy" Hall, a Brigham City native.
Additionally, at least four hours of competition from Salt Lake City will be broadcast around the country on the NBC and USA television networks. In each of the two years since NBC Universal and Live Nation created the tour (with Mountain Dew as primary sponsor), the programming has attracted 38 million viewers, more than 240,000 spectators and 3 million visitors to its Web site, said Wade Martin, general manager of action sports for NBC Sports.
"We're building this event for the long haul," said Martin. "2007 is just the beginning."
Besides Salt Lake, events also are scheduled this year in Orlando and Cleveland. Two other sites are being negotiated.
Martin said Salt Lake City was a natural stop for the tour, citing the area's youthful demographics, the popularity of outdoor lifestyles and the city's experience in hosting major events, namely the 2002 Winter Olympics, which NBC televised within the United States. When told that Salt Lake City was considered as a competition site, Martin said, NBC Sports executives responded, "Why wouldn't you go there?"
Meeting over. Deal done.
But it wasn't done overnight. Utah Sports Commission Chief Executive Jeff Robbins worked for almost four years to secure a stop. The Sports Commission, which has had a role in staging nearly 200 sporting events since 2000, committed $150,000 and other assistance to promote the event and will be working with NBC to try to secure air time for a Utah advertising campaign, Robbins said.
His nonprofit group had considerable assistance from Ogio International Inc., a Bluffdale-based manufacturer of sporting goods equipment and major sponsor of action sports and their athletes, and Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment, which will haul 7,000 cubic yards of dirt into EnergySolutions Arena for BMX and motocross competitions.
"Our business is about sports," said Miller Sports and Entertainment President Dennis Haslam. "We expect to see 100,000 people and sell a lot of hot dogs and T-shirts."
And Renner pledged that spectators will like what they see. "We're going to get crazy."
* Salt Lake City will be the fourth of five stops on the made-for-TV Dew Action Sports Tour
* Six skateboarding, BMX and freestyle motocross competitions will be staged Sept. 20-23 at EnergySolutions Arena and in parking lots south and northeast of the arena
* A festival-style setting is projected to draw 100,000 people to downtown Salt Lake City
* Athletes are competing for purses totaling $3.5 million