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Daredevils Still Soar but X Games Numbers Drop

The X Games feature daredevil athletes who make skateboards sail through the air and BMX bicycles back flip, but its ratings and attendance are strikingly earthbound.


The 11th annual X Games, held at Staples Center, Home Depot Center and the Long Beach Marine Stadium, saw its Sunday broadcast on ABC post a 1.6 household rating, down from 2.0 in 2004, 1.8 in both 2003 and 2002, and 1.9 in 2001.


Moreover, the events drew 122,614 attendees this year, compared with 170,471 in 2004 and 187,141 the prior year the first year they were held in Los Angeles.


Maria Elles Scott, a games spokeswoman, attributed part of the attendance decline to moving a surfing event from Huntington Beach to Puerto Escondido in Mexico. She said that ESPN, which owns the extreme sports extravaganza, plans to keep the competition in Los Angeles at least through 2009.


“It’s been stronger every year, even if it’s not demonstrated by attendance or viewership numbers, since it’s on at different times in different years,” Scott said. “It’s been successful in that our athletes are very pleased with it, and it’s the No. 1 action sports event in the world.”


Even with declining rating and attendance, the games are a boon for the city, said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp.


“No. 1, it gives you sweeping exposure around the world,” he said. “No. 2, it really ties into the action sportswear industry which is big in Southern California, mostly in Orange County but also around Los Angeles.”


The X Games was founded in Rhode Island in 1995 and moved to Los Angeles after stints in San Diego, San Francisco and Philadelphia.



*This story is from the August 15 edition of the Business Journal.

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