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EPICENTER FOR 2000: TIMES SQUARE OFFERS SPONSORS SLOTS IN ITS 1999 MILLENNIUM FETE

By Published on .

New york's Times Square wants to have the biggest party in the world on Dec. 31, 1999, when the next millennium dawns.

The Times Square Business Improvement District, or BID, plans to make the year 2000 celebration its biggest yet, hoping to capitalize on the site's reputation as the premier New Year's Eve venue.

When the millennium begins in the Fiji Islands at yearend 1999, BID will oversee a massive 24-hour live televised entertainment production centered in Times Square, piping in multimedia reports from New Year's Eve celebrations around the world.

Sponsorship positions will be offered to a few major corporations yet to be named.

But as ambitious as Times Square's event is, it will only be one of many millennium celebrations sharing the spotlight in 1999 (see Advertising Age's "Countdown to the Year 2000" Special Report Nov. 18.)

COSTING `INTO MILLIONS'

No prices for sponsoring the Times Square event have been revealed, but BID spokeswoman Gretchen Dykstra said it will likely cost "into the millions" to be part of the event.

One major financial services marketer and an entertainment company have expressed interest in sponsoring the event so far, Ms. Dykstra said.

"We want a handful of very high-impact, international companies to sponsor a production everyone will be proud of, that will be accessible to as large an audience as possible," she said.

BID is working with New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other city groups to create a coordinated event, with profits likely to go to New York City, Ms. Dykstra said.

Marketing experts say Times Square's millennium event is just one of several opportunities that may require careful evaluation.

"Use caution in choosing the statement you'll make for the millennium," advised Ardy Arani, managing director of promotion agency API Championship Group/Atlanta, "because this is going to be a highly cluttered occurrence. There are risks as well as opportunities."

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