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Sports event to roll into Ann Arbor for big game

October 20, 2000

On Oct. 21, the University of Michigan plays host to in-state rival Michigan State, and while the football game serves as the main attraction, it will not be the only event in Ann Arbor grabbing people’s attention.

Joining this weekend’s festivities will be the first-ever Hanes “Sports on the Go” national tour.

Arriving in Ann Arbor on Saturday, the customized “Sports on the Go” 18-wheeler will convert into a total-sports environment featuring unique sports memorabilia, interactive games and exhibits, and a simulator ride.

“When it gets there, this 18-wheeler, you won’t miss it,” Sara Lee spokeswoman Burrows said. “It’s a self-generating publicity machine.”

The tour features four activity areas, the “Hall of Fame,” featuring unique sports memorabilia, the “Playing Field,” featuring computer sports kiosks, the “Locker Room,” giving people a chance to size themselves up against professional athletes, and a simulator ride that allows riders to experience the rush of sitting behind the wheel of a race car or in the front seat of a roller coaster.

The “Sports on the Go” tour is a way for the company to build visibility and awareness for their products beyond the traditional T-shirt and briefs.

“There is a growing interest in fashionable boxers,” Kimberly Gentry, a Sara Lee consultant handling tour management and publicity, said. “The ‘Sports on the Go’ tour is an interesting way, through a sports tour, to reach potential buyers.”

To help create the “Sports on the Go” tour, Hanes partnered with Internet sports media company SportsLine.com, relying on it to provide content for the tour and sports information for the interactive sports games.

“(SportsLine.com) gets great visibility for what they do best and we get a great partner,” Burrows said.

Larry Wahl, SportsLine.com director of corporate communications and investor relations, says that the tour provides SportsLine.com with an excellent opportunity to get its name out to the public.

“When we looked at the tour, it fit with what we were trying to do with getting our logo out in a grassroots network and still being cost effective,” Wahl said. “It also gave us a chance to associate ourselves with a quality brand.”

The “Sports on the Go” tour kicked off Sept. 14 at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair and is scheduled to make numerous stops before commencing in Tampa, Fla. during Super Bowl weekend. Despite the set schedule, Burrows says the tour could be extended.

“The ‘Sports on the Go’ tour will run through the Spring of 2001 and potentially beyond,” she said.

Burrows said that in scheduling stops, Hanes was looking for games that displayed great rivalries - places where college football reigns king. Therefore, it only made sense to include a stop at this weekend’s game.

“Michigan-Michigan State is one of the key rivalries in the country,” Wahl said. “That is as big as they come.”

Stops prior to Ann Arbor have included the Arkansas State Fair, the Texas-Oklahoma football game and the Texas State Fair, among others.

“The largest (tour stop) was at the Texas State Fair which is one of the largest state fairs in the country,” Burrows said. “(Turnout) was close to 5,000 people per day.”

After Saturday’s game, the “Sports on the Go” tour will relocate to the Ypsilanti Meijer, where it will remain from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25.

From Michigan, the tour will travel to Virginia for the Oct. 28 meeting between Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh, continuing east from there to cover various other events. Eventually, on January 1, the “Sports on the Go” tour will make its final college football appearance at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

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