ESPN Considering Return to Reno

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Officials for ESPN say Reno proved to be a good pick for the network's fourth annual Great Outdoor Games and they'll consider returning next year.

ESPN officials intend to meet with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitor's Authority this week to decide whether to retain the site for 2004.

Attendance was less than expected the first few days, but that may have been due to high temperatures in triple digits, they said.

"We love it here,"said Eric Matijevich, ESPN's director of the games.

"There's nothing driving us away. We just have to take a step back,"he told the Reno-Gazette Journal.

Only 7,458 people attended on Thursday and only 10,054 attended on Friday. But Matijevich said he was much happier with Saturdays crowd of 21,338 and the large crowds on Sunday.

Matijevich also said the venues _ Rancho San Rafael Park, the Byington Ranch in Carson Valley and the Truckee River _ provided a great backdrop.

As Matijevich and other ESPN officials look at the footage being assembled for the national broadcast of the games that starts Saturday on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, they'll be looking for ways to improve the games, he said.

Jeff Beckelman, RSCVA's chief executive officer, has seen some of the early clips.

"The area looks fantastic on television,"Beckelman said.

Spectators at Rancho San Rafael Park seemed aware that Reno was being put on the national stage.

The Mattinglys, a family of outdoors lovers, traveled from Marysville, Calif., to see the games.

"We've always watched it on TV and the kids always wanted to go,"said Rick, 46, the father."Reno's a lot closer than Lake Placid, so we decided to come over."