World Student Games: Buffalo's empty seats

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The Independent Online
THE FINAL medals were won in Buffalo on Sunday, but the most significant figure to come out of the World Student Games was not the whitewash by the American hosts, but the wash- out in the stadium. Of the 1.2 million tickets available, early estimations are that only 325,000 tickets were sold.

Coupled with a disappointing level of sponsorship and the lack of any American network television deal, the Games look to have been financially disastrous with early estimates indicating a loss of dollars 5m (pounds 3.4m). 'We didn't get the crowds and we didn't get the exposure. That's why the World University Games were brought here and it didn't happen,' a Games official said.

The 17th Games follow the financial flop of the 16th Games in Sheffield in 1991. Given America's reputed ability to sell any sporting event to its public, questions now hang over the future of this event altogether. Nevertheless, the next host, Fukuoka, Japan, has embraced the challenge of staging the Games in 1995 and organisers are talking of an outlay five times that needed in Buffalo.

The American organisers had scaled down its original budget by 40 per cent to dollars 34m. Of this, dollars 12.5m was expected in corporate sponsorship, yet only dollars 1m was needed for NYNEX to be the Games' presenting sponsor. After no US network television deal was found, the organisers paid dollars 300,000 for six hours' coverage on a cable channel.

Britain finished the Games well with three last-day medals including gold for Lynne Robinson in the 1500 metres.