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Another Jim Dandy ASF

lt-0707-nv1.gifAre you ready for 2008? Jim Lorimer’s comment, made a month after the ’07 Arnold Sports Festival, was certainly to be expected: “This was the best ever, by any measure,” beamed the Columbus Energizer. “We had over 150,000 people pass through the event. There were 17,000 athletes in 38 sports, 14 of them Olympic sports.”
I already commented in last month’s News & Views on how every venue was packed to the limit this season, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ effect. Sure, I knew the event had been sold out—but I had no idea that it took only 24 hours for fans to swoop up the 18,000 seats. And I would bet a dollar to a dime that the pay-per-view numbers went through the roof as well.
“We had a great relationship with the UFC,” said Lorimer. “These people did exactly what they said they would. They did a $3 million gate and became the largest event in the history of Nationwide Arena. They took out a full-page ad in the Columbus Dispatch, saying thank you to Columbus for being part of the history-making event.”
A $3 million gate? Yes, I’d be very happy with the partnership too! And to sell out in one day? Those were $200, $300 and $400 tickets. And for those who thought that having the competition on Saturday night would hurt the gate at the Arnold Classic? Yeah, it hurt it so much, the ASC was sold out too.
You name it, Columbus had it. My main man Jack LaLanne flew in to speak at the Active Aging seminar. As Lorimer put it, “Seniors are staying involved in fitness more and more, so this was a strong addition to the weekend.”
Once again the Arnold Expo was toe-to-toe with activity, with 650 exhibitors, and more than 30 companies were on a waiting list hoping a space would open up. In all, the ’07 weekend generated an estimated $39 million for the central Ohio community, he said. I had the same problem with my Junior Cal. At least until I snapped out of my dream.
One of the additions to the weekend that especially pleased Lorimer was the NPC Arnold Championships, which garnered nearly 250 competitors and drew great crowds both Friday and Saturday mornings.
“Arnold and I are both committed to the sport of bodybuilding,” Lorimer said, “and we felt we had to include an amateur event within the weekend. This was a great success—we cut off the competitor list back in December—and we expect it to get bigger and better in ’08.
“We have just 324 days until the 2008 event,” Lorimer said. “As you know, it will be the 20th anniversary of the Arnold Classic [yeah, some kid named Rich Gaspari took home the grand prize in 1989], and we’re going to make it the biggest one yet. We plan to grow in every sport.”
I’ll take your word on that one, Mr. Lorimer.

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