Las Vegas Intent on Buying Super Bowl Time

Friday, February 4th 2005, 6:27 pm
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The Super Bowl won't be the only major showdown on Sunday.

Las Vegas tourism officials say they're pushing ahead to buy commercial time during the Super Bowl telecast on Fox affiliates across the country, despite NFL efforts to block the attempt.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased ad time worth more than $2 million in seven markets to debut its new ``What happens here, Stays here'' commercial, tourism officials said Friday.

``Theoretically, we should have a few spots during the Super Bowl,'' said Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive officer of R&R Partners, which created the ad campaign for the visitors authority.

But as in past years, the NFL wants to stop Las Vegas tourism officials from showing the commercials that tout the city.

This week, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league had received information Las Vegas tourism officials were attempting to purchase ad time that could promote gambling _ something the NFL has prohibited for decades.

McCarthy said the NFL reminded Fox and its affiliates that the league does not allow showing ads that promote gambling or cities that are synonymous with gambling such as Las Vegas.

``It's a long standing policy,'' McCarthy said. ``We had information passed to us that they were potentially trying to buy advertising on the local affiliates. It's been an ongoing issue with the city of Las Vegas trying to get advertising.''

McCarthy said savvy tourism officials in Las Vegas had previously gone behind the NFL's back in 2004 and bought Super Bowl ad time from CBS affiliates instead of the network.

``We were not pleased and we let CBS know,'' McCarthy said.

Several months ago, Vassiliadis said Fox representatives solicited him to buy ad time in some of its affiliate markets.

Since Fox was doing the soliciting, Vassiliadis said there was no reason to do an end run around the NFL again.

``We didn't go around anybody's back,'' he said. ``We're not trying to irritate or aggravate anybody.''

Fox spokeswoman Ivey Van Allen in Los Angeles declined comment Friday.

Vassiliadis said the visitors authority bought spots on the affiliates that would show the ads before, during and after the Super Bowl between the Philadelphia Eagles against the New England Patriots.

As of Friday afternoon, Vassiliadis said he expects to see the ads run Sunday in Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas and San Francisco.

``It's been a very fluid process,'' he said. ``I'm waiting with bated breath. I'm neither optimistic or pessimistic.''

If Fox bends to the NFL, Vassiliadis says the visitors authority will either ask for its money back or request commensurate ad time on other successful Fox program such as ``American Idol.''

He declined to criticize the NFL.

``I love the NFL. I'm a big fan.''

Besides trying to block the ads, McCarthy said the NFL will have investigators in five cities, including Las Vegas, enforcing the league's television broadcast copyrights. Last year. the NFL forced an end to Super Bowl parties for which hotel-casino's charged entry fees. The game still may be shown for free.