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What Lake Placid can do for the Olympics

March 19, 2015
Lake Placid News

To the editor:

Two editorials in these pages on Feb. 20 made a compelling case for re-investing in winter sports and mobilizing as a community to return the Winter Olympics to Lake Placid (perhaps in alliance with Canada). Our community must also articulate what Lake Placid can do for the Olympics. This perspective is critical if we ever want to host the games again.

Fortunately for us, venues with rich histories attract viewers. One example is the Merion Golf Club, which hosted the U.S. Open in 2013. Merion had hosted numerous historic championships (including four U.S. Opens from 1934 to 1981) and was the stage for many spectacular moments in the sport of golf. However, Merion was a relatively small venue. With the increasing demands for greater space to accommodate more spectators and corporate tents, many thought the 1981 U.S. Open would be Merion's last. Sound familiar? Merion is to golf what Lake Placid is to winter sports.

The return of the U.S. Open to Merion in 2013 added a whole new storyline to the event, as NBC and the Golf Channel (owned by NBC) re-introduced Merion and its history to golf fans. They did so by sprinkling brief segments about Merion into their coverage, including historic golf moments on the course as well as features of the club. These segments were well spaced and built interest, keeping viewers excited to see the next one. After seeing what NBC did with Merion's history, I can't help but wonder how well a network could sell Lake Placid's Olympic legacy.

The money question (literally and figuratively) is, what happened to ratings? Did history sell? Ratings for the 2013 U.S. Open should have been terrible as Tiger Woods was not in serious contention, and yet ratings were strong as the venue itself proved to be a star worthy of viewers' attention. In fact, viewership of the Golf Channels' U.S. Open Week in 2013 exceeded that of all East Coast U.S. Open Weeks in previous years - weekend viewership was the highest for an East Coast U.S. Open in six years.

In addition to strengthening ratings, a Lake Placid Olympics also presents U.S. corporate sponsors the opportunity to align their brands not only with the Games, but also with the national pride and sentiments our town uniquely evokes. This is quite valuable as the U.S. advertising market is the largest in the world.

Without a doubt, a jointly hosted Lake Placid-Montreal Olympics would be tremendous for our town. With its ability to stir the Olympic soul of the American television viewer, Lake Placid would also be an asset for the Games. Let's make our case and bring the games home!

Chris Leavy

Lake Placid and Wayne, Pennsylvania



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