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EVENTS & PROMOTIONS: JETTING TO ANAHEIM: 42-ACRE SITE WILL HOST EVENTS ACCOMPANYING RACES OF PERSONAL WATER CRAFTS

By Published on .

The nation's largest personal watercraft event gets off the ground this August in Anaheim, when a dry river bed will be transformed into a lake.

California's Santa Ana River bottom, devoid of water in summer, will be filled with 20 million gallons on Aug. 15-17 for Jet Jam '97, a series of races and demonstrations of extreme water sports featuring acrobatic jet skiers and water stunt experts.

The event underscores the growing popularity of personal watercrafts. It also highlights how one facility management company created an entirely new water event on dry land.

50,000 EXPECTED

Building on last year's successful introduction of the concept, the second annual Jet Jam has been significantly expanded and is expected to draw more than 50,000 admission-paying spectators.

Expos, entertainment, fairs and family activities will also be offered on a 42-acre site adjacent to Anaheim's Arrowhead Pond stadium, next to the temporary lake. Sanctioned by the International Jet Sports Boating Association, Jet Jam '97 features 30 of the sport's top drivers of individual high-power jet ski boats, along with dozens of professional watersports stunt experts.

New this year: professional wakeboarding demonstrations, in which an athlete performs stunts while attached to a small footboard and towed at high speeds behind a power boat.

Splash magazine has signed on as a sponsor and a variety of supporting sponsors are expected to be announced soon at costs ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. Atherton Communications, Westport, Conn., handles sponsorships and manages the event.

FAMILY ZONE ADDED

This year's Jet Jam also includes the Hot Car & Truck Show and the Car Audio Sound-Off. Bands will perform; coed professional beach volleyball demonstrations will be staged; a family fun zone with activities for kids will be offered; and an expo where major jet ski manufacturers will demonstrate products and equipment will be open to visitors.

The event will be broadcast in a 1-hour special on ESPN.

New York-based Ogden Facility Management conceived the idea for Jet Jam in an effort to expand activities at Arrowhead Pond, which it has managed since the facility opened in 1993.

"The stadium is one of the nation's busiest, but we wanted to find even more uses for it. We stared at that dry river bed, and someone had the idea of filling it with water," said Tim Ryan, Ogden's onsite general manager of Arrowhead Pond.

Ogden negotiated for months with everyone from local authorities to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and even has plans to hold river water upstream for three days in the unlikely event of a flood calling for the Santa Ana River bottom to be used for runoff.

"Adding the water turned the stadium into a different kind of venue, and it opens the possibilities of using it for other unusual events with or without water," said Stephanie Vinge, marketing director of Arrowhead Pond.

In choreographing the event, Atherton made several adjustments from last year.

"We discovered continuous racing is monotonous, so we're interspersing the action with freestyle events and acrobatic water sports demonstrations," said Kent Atherton, the company's CEO.

BUD WAS '96 SPONSOR

On-site sponsors at last year's event included Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser, Bombardier's See Doo, Body Glove and Bauer, among others. This year, local sponsors include several radio stations who will broadcast live from the event.

More than 170 vendor booths and exhibitors will be present at this year's, offering general product demonstrations and sampling.

"The theme is products for young, active and outdoor-oriented consumers," Mr.

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