- Robin Chang works for AMI, and is considered one of the producers of the 2005 Olympia Weekend. Robin is the one with many of the answers to the questions that we have regarding the Olympia, and also provides a lot of the info and press releases for many of us. Here are some questions that I asked Robin regarding the 2005 Olympia Weekend.
- This year, the host hotel and venue was moved. In 2004, it was at the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Convention Center and Event Center last year. This year, it is at the Orleans Hotel, the Orleans Arena, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Why the move?
Let's start with the Las Vegas Convention Center. First, we're looking towards expansion; we have more booths at the vastly more spacious expo hall, an Octagon for the Ultimate Fighting Championships, and much more convenient facilities for exhibitors, precluding previous difficulties in booth set-up.
The Orleans Arena-the venue hosting the actual competition-is far superior to the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Comparing the two is unfair. It's like going from a Cadillac to a Rolls Royce. It's fresh and new, with fantastic seating. In fact, the worst seat in the house is still better than most of the high priced seats at the Mandalay. In addition, they have their own edit bay for video. Sophisticated equipment-estimated at $4 million-allows for state of the art video, capturing the true essence of the contest.
The Orleans Hotel. Research from last year indicated that only 20-25% of attendees booked a room at the Mandalay Bay-the general consensus being exorbitant prices. They were simply too high, even for VIP ticket holders. At a staggering $284 a night, several guests elected to stay elsewhere. We want to insure that costs are kept to a minimum, as many people have family and friends in attendance. The Olympia weekend is the premier event of the sport, and we'll do everything possible to make the experience an unforgettable and affordable one.
- Some critics have complained that this is a step down for the Olympia - a step down from the Mandalay Bay?
Unless "a step down" means a larger, more accessible arena and convention center-complete with advanced technical equipment-it's absolutely impossible to support such claims. This Olympia is bigger and better in every aspect.
- But the hotel is not better than the Mandalay Bay.
It's not as extravagant, but it's certainly more economically feasible. The support from the Orleans Hotel and Arena has been stellar, to say the least. They're doing far more marketing and promotion than Mandalay Bay. Four additional casinos and hotels will present Olympia promotions on plasma screens strategically located throughout the property. The Olympia will be a prominent outdoor marquee feature at all four locations. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Thanks to such brilliant efforts, the Olympia will not go unnoticed.
- The Olympia Prize Money is the highest ever. Congratulations.
Yes, the Mr. Olympia prize money has seen a substantial increase from last year's figures. The Mr. Olympia was increased to $500,000. The Ms. Olympia prize money increased to $71,000, Fitness Olympia increased to $55,000, and the Figure Olympia to $35,000. These are record numbers.
- So where are the athletes staying?
All of the athletes are staying at the Orleans Hotel.
- So where are the Olympia promoters staying?
The promoters, including the support team and many of the AMI staff, are all housed at the Orleans. Expo workers are housed at a hotel close to the Las Vegas Convention Center. If it's good enough for the athletes and fans, then it's good enough for us.
- So which events are going to held at the Orleans Hotel & Arena?
Thursday, the press conference will be held at 1pm in the Mardi Gras Ballroom, which is also the sight for the Meet The Olympians, later that evening. Friday night, the Orleans Arena will showcase the Figure & Fitness Finals, as well as the new Mr. Olympia Wildcard Showdown-a very exciting addition, I may add. Saturday, at the Orleans, once again, we'll have the Men's Prejudging at 10am and the finals at 7:30pm. We've scheduled the finals to start half an hour later so that audience members will have enough time to enjoy the Expo, relax, and sit down to nice dinner without having to rush.
- So is there going to be a PPV this year?
We're currently in negotiations. In boxing, the main event doesn't start until 9pm PST, so there's no concern over the time.
- You mentioned a Wild Card Event, what is this new contest on Friday night?
It's the last-chance to qualify for the Olympia. It's a contest with a winner take all prize of $10,000 and a wild card entry into the Olympia on Saturday. Interested parties can read the press release at www.2005olympia.com for more details. This is just one of several things AMI and the IFBB are doing to forge ahead. Through the combined efforts of both organizations, we're creating more events and adding excitement to the sport. We are wholly committed to the continued growth and prosperity of our sport.
- The Female Bodybuilding Finals was moved from Friday Night at the Arena to Saturday at the Expo? Why the move?
Last year, at the Friday Night finals we had less than 2,000 attendees. That's unacceptable for a championship of that magnitude. Moving it to the Expo will help attendance and thus, attract more attention to female bodybuilding. In excess of 8,000 attendees can witness the best female bodybuilders on the planet at no additional cost. People unwilling to pay ticket prices to view the event separately can now witness it for the cost of a $10 Expo fee-it's all included. Obviously, that means absolutely no ticket revenue will be generated from this contest. A $90,000 ($71,000 prize money + $20,000 expenses) loss is the price of increased exposure to keep female bodybuilding alive. We're here to support women's bodybuilding and it's a hit we're willing to take.
- Who is going to MC the Olympia show?
We have a very impressive list of MC's and hosts in consideration. A decision will be made shortly.
- Will there be other surprises this year?
Most definitely! There are always surprises in store. Just keep your ears and eyes open.
- Some people are concerned about the distance between the host hotel and the expo. It is 5 miles apart.
That's precisely why we are offering free shuttle service between the Orleans Hotel, Orleans Arena and the Las Vegas Convention Center all day Friday and Saturday. Again, comfort and accessibility are high priorities.
- Regarding the competitors, there has been talk that they only get 1 ticket for their family. Is that fair?
The competitors get 1 VIP package valued at $600. They have the option of exchanging that for additional seats at both prejudging and the finals, equivalent to the cost of the VIP package. The exact same offer was in place last year, yet none of the athletes exercised that option. Competitors with any special circumstances that may arise (such as tickets for additional family members) can talk to me directly. We want to make things as comfortable and hassle free as possible. In order to accommodate everyone, we need to be aware of changes in advance-far in advance-as last minute alterations are next to impossible at the show.
- Are you picking up the competitors from the airport? Are you picking up their hotel room tab?
Limo service from the airport will be provided. We will cover the cost of the flight, hotel, and a daily per diem for food or other accouterments. Room service and phone calls will be the responsibility of each competitor.
- Some people said that the box office said that they will not accept VISA or credit cards from other countries to purchase tickets?
That's ludicrous! We have orders from all over the world. As long as your card has a VISA, Mastercard, American Express, or Discover logo on it, we can and will process it. I assure you. After all, this is Las Vegas.
- What is the toughest job being the one of the producers of the Olympia?
The number of challenges; every year we try to raise the bar, make this show better than the last one. We want to give the competitors, the fans, the sponsors-all the people who support this great sport-something spectacular. Our goal is to give the public what it wants and then some. Making everybody happy isn't the easiest task in the world, by far. But this is the Super Bowl of bodybuilding and each one of us does our best to make this a truly exceptional event. Having the highest, record setting amount of prize money ever distributed to the athletes in the history of the sport is as good a start as any. But we're still not satisfied. AMI and the IFBB are committed to more. We want to set a new standard. We want to produce the very best show and elevate the sport to new heights. Let's take bodybuilding into uncharted realms and expand the boundaries.