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Following the lead of the National Basketball Association and National Football League, the U.S. Olympic Committee is forming a marketing unit, Olympic Properties of the U.S.

OPUS will not only market USOC properties but the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and most likely all Olympics staged in the U.S. after that.

Details of its structure and purpose will be finalized next month.

John Krimsky Jr., USOC deputy secretary general, will serve as president of OPUS. Within a year, about 15 executives will be hired to round out the USOC's current sponsorship services staff, which will be folded into OPUS.

The property organization will also establish and staff a licensing division.


In an interview with Advertising Age at last week's Sports Summit in New York, Mr. Krimsky said OPUS is needed as USOC and the International Olympic Committee formulate long-term business plans for the Olympic movement.

Those plans require extensive partnerships with major marketers and a forward-thinking entity to service them, he said.

Earlier this month, the USOC pitched eight-year sponsorship deals to companies, starting this year and including U.S. marketing rights to the 2002 Games for 12 marketers in 12 key categories. The USOC made those pitches with ad sales executives from NBC, the Olympics' U.S. broadcasting partner from 2000 to 2008.

Those pacts include rights to several new properties the USOC has created, such as the summer and winter Olympic Cups in between Olympics years.

Mr. Krimsky wouldn't disclose pricing, but it's believed the USOC is looking for a total of $100 million in fees and services in each category.


Anheuser-Busch is the front-runner for the entire beer category, but not all categories will go to one company. Telecommunications, with its distinct services and product subsets, could be split up among at least three companies.

Long-distance phone service is the big ticket, valued at $60 million, with AT&T Corp. the front-runner, while Lucent Technologies appears all but signed for equipment.

The airline category will take two sponsors as well since current sponsor United Airlines doesn't service certain destinations.

Mr. Krimsky said one company, a consumer foods marketer, had reservations about the length of the deals, but added the USOC wants to accommodate it with a

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