Barcelona to host summer X Games events

February 27, 2013

Barcelona will soon be the focus of adrenaline junkies all around the world as the biggest competition in extreme sports makes its European debut this summer.

For the first time in X Games history, the action-packed competition will be expanded to four international cities with Barcelona hosting the highly anticipated skateboarding, Moto X, BMX and Rally Cross events. From May 16-19, athletes will jump, flip and free-style to win gold, silver or bronze medals along with cash prizes. The events will take place at Montjuïc Park’s Olympic Ring, where the 1992 Olympics were held.

Since conception in 1995, the annual X Games has only been held in cities around the U.S. ESPN, the sports network that created and organizes the X Games, decided to expand the games globally because of the growing popularity of extreme sports. According to an ESPN press release, by taking the franchise internationally, the network hopes to bring new cultural elements to the X Games and transform it from an action sports competition brand into an action sports lifestyle brand.

The X Games is a distinguished competition because they link extreme sports with a specific lifestyle. Culture is a focal point of the games as they blend sports with fashion, music and art, leading to a noticeable impact on contemporary youth worldwide. The competition greatly increased participation in extreme sports and made athletes like Tony Hawk, Shaun White and Travis Pastrana household names.

This year’s competition in Barcelona is surely to be groundbreaking, as it will blend this trendy Americanized lifestyle associated with the X Games with touches of Catalonian culture.

“Barcelona has a passionate and street-centered culture. We plan to integrate that into the event,” said Anthony Dittmann, ESPN event director for the Barcelona X Games.

Victor Casanovas in the marketing and communication department at Seven Marketing, the Local Organizing Committee for the Barcelona X Games, said that they will put a Catalonian flare on the American event.

“We are trying to give this event an essence characteristic to Barcelona,” Casanovas said. “Some of the facilities have details of Catalan architecture and the way the event will go on is also modified to attract the citizens of the area.”

Since culture is such a major factor of the X Games, the energetic, sports-oriented culture of Barcelona made it a prime host city for the games. The ’92 Games motivated many large-scale investments in sporting facilities all over the city that in turn, transformed Barcelona into one of the most popular sports capitals in Europe. Casanovas said that in the recent years extreme sports like BMX and skateboarding have become widely accepted among the youth in Barcelona.

“Barcelona is a modern, multicultural city that hosts world class events and has a young generation that enjoy the thrill of action sports,” Casanovas said. “Little by little they are changing from the traditional sports, such as kicking a ball on the streets, to having a skateboard.”

The X Games have had great economic impact for the host cities by bringing in such large groups of tourists and revenue. The newly added international cities are expected to benefit from this year’s competitions as well. Dittmann said that they are expecting a crowd of 100,000 in Barcelona for the games and hope to benefit the city by bringing in revenue.

“Obviously we hope for a beneficial impact. Past studies of the X Games have shown an economic impact of up to $70 million. We hope to see the entire city embrace the event,” Dittmann said.

Along with bringing in a significant amount of revenue to the city, Casanovas said the attention brought to Barcelona is also a major advantage to hosting the event.

“This event can serve as a potential growth expansion in reference to the digital world talking about Barcelona,” Casanovas said. “This event is broadcasted to more than 200 million homes over five continents so the media impact of the event will be huge.”

Globalizing the X Games is sure to attract a new international fan base to the competition and extreme sports in general. American fans look forward to watching the same heart-stopping competition they are used to on a foreign stage. Katie Taylor, a longtime fan who attended last summer’s X Games, said she believes holding the games internationally will be a good change of pace and also bring in different groups of riders.

“As a fan, I’m stoked to see the competition on an international stage for the first time. I can’t wait to see what Barcelona brings for the games,” Taylor said.