05.03.2011 – Tennis Championship Series Expands – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Tennis championship series expands

Series featuring Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, John McEnroe and other stars will travel to 12 cities this fall.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
May 3, 2011 3:26 p.m.

Former world tennis champ Jim Courier squared off many times against the greats during his career, including players like Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Michael Chang. But he seems to be as excited as any fan about watching some legendary rivalries back to life as part of his revamped Champions Series tour, which will kick off this fall.

The HSBC Tennis Cup will inaugurate the series on Sept. 22 at the Bank Atlantic Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. John McEnroe and Messrs. Sampras, Chang and Courier will compete in three matches that night. Those four champs and veteran stars Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Mr. Agassi will then go on to compete in a whirlwind 12-city tournament competition over five weekends in September and October.

“We are thrilled to reunite seven legends who have won an astonishing 52 Grand Slam singles titles among them,” Jon Venison, a founding partner of the Champions Series and co-founder, with Mr. Courier, of Manhattan-based InsideOut Sports and Entertainment said in a statement.

Though the New York City metro area won’t be included in the tour this year, the series’ reach has expanded, Mr. Courier said. The partners scored veteran live entertainment impresario Larry Magid, who is producing all of the events.

“We’re reaching more cities than we’ve ever been able to play in before,” said Mr. Courier. The condensed schedule, with three matches a night played over the five weekends, “is really meant to be player- and fan-friendly.”

Scheduled venues include Boston, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. But Mr. Courier and his company also made a concerted effort to include a wealth of markets not necessarily geared to tennis—Minneapolis; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Detroit among them. The expanded locations allow pro tennis to reach out to fans in places it is rarely seen, Mr. Courier said.

“Of the 12 cities, nine of them do not have any high-level tennis events,” he said. “It’ll be something special for the fans, all these big names coming to compete in their town.”

Past Champions Series tournaments saw players competing in a more grueling set of matches concentrated in one city over a few days.

“I think the series in previous years became a little bit limited,” said Mr. Courier. “We haven’t been able to get out to as many cities as we would have liked due to the multi-day tournament structure.”

The pared-down one-night, one-city tournaments this year are “a much better fit for the players,” he said. “It’s the perfect amount.”

The revamped schedule helped pull in big sponsors, including Staples, Geico and HSBC. The overall champion will receive $500,000 out of a million-dollar bonus pool, with second and third place scoring $350,000 and $150,000, respectively.

Mr. Courier enjoyed a storied 13-year run in professional tennis, winning four Grand Slam titles and 23 tournaments, and in 1992, becoming the first male American singles player since John McEnroe to rank No. 1 in the world. Along with Mr. McEnroe, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi, he also led the U.S. Davis Cup team to world domination twice in the early 1990s.

After retirement in 2001, he proved more enterprising than many former pro athletes, co-founding his own sports and entertainment event and promotion company, InsideOut, and throwing himself into charitable causes like his St. Petersburg, Fla. inner-city youth program, Raymond James Courier’s Kids.

Now he relishes his role as captain of the current Davis Cup team, where he mentors U.S. talent like Andy Roddick, 10-time Grand Slam doubles champs Bob and Mike Bryan, and 11th world-ranked men’s singles player Mardy Fish.

Messrs. Fish and Roddick currently place No. 11 and No. 12 in the world, and the Davis Cup outlook so far is promising, with the U.S. team defeating Chile 4-1 in the first round in March of this year.

But the overall numbers suggest U.S. men’s tennis is struggling. No Americans stand in the Top 10 in the world, according to ATP rankings, and only seven American male singles players rank in the Top 100. Meanwhile, European players like current No. 1-ranked Rafael Nadal continue to dominate major competitions.

“The big events in tennis are doing incredibly well,” said Mr. Courier, but keeping American attention focused on the sport is “a little bit challenging” due to a lack of exposure. “Only four times a year do the top players compete in American events,” he said. “We don’t really get a lot of momentum.”

The veterans on the series have plenty of that, though. “They like this. They want to compete,” said Mr. Courier, adding that he particularly looked forward to the match-up between Messrs. McEnroe and Borg. “Andre [Agassi] in particular wants to get out there and thanks the fans for all they’ve done for him.”

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05.02.2011 – Joy, Caution Mix in Bin Laden’s Wake – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Joy, caution mix in Bin Laden’s wake

Security tightened at key sites while jubilant mood breaks out all over town; down at Ground Zero work goes on. Bin Laden’s killing to be museum exhibit.

(my contribution is the on-the-ground reporting from Ground Zero – about the last third of article)
May 2, 2011 12:29 p.m.
Osama bin Laden is dead

Elisabeth Butler Cordova
A few revelers gathered early Monday morning in Times Square to mark the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Updated: May 2, 2011 5:06 p.m.

While crowds gathered at Ground Zero and other places around town to celebrate news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, public officials and others quickly moved to tighten security at key locations around the city.

At an afternoon press conference at Ground Zero, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that while the city has not received any specific threats in response to the killing of Bin Laden, the police, along with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, have increased security throughout the city.

Additional national guard troops have been stationed at Grand Central Terminal and Penn Station. Similarly, police and K9 units have stepped up searches throughout the subway. There are also more helicopters flying patrols over the city and harbor police units are monitoring boat traffic.

“We cannot take any chances,” said Mr. Kelly. Bin Laden’s “disciples would like nothing better than to avenge his death.”

MTA Chairman Jay Walder said the heightened security measures would remain in effect “until further notice.” He encouraged New Yorkers to contact authorities if they see suspicious activity.

The Port Authority directed its police force to increase its presence at all Port facilities, including the World Trade Center site. Meanwhile, security was also stepped up at hotels and other facilities.

Security personnel at all Marriott properties in the city, for example, were told to be “extra alert because of the news announced last night,” said Kathleen Duffy, a spokeswoman for the nearly dozen properties in the city. She added, however, that at this point: “We don’t see a cause for concern based on what’s been communicated to us.”

Meanwhile, hotels that tend to attract high-level dignitaries, such as the Waldorf-Astoria and the St. Regis are getting extra protection from the New York Police Department, according to Anthony Roman, chief executive of Roman & Associates, a security consulting and global investigation firm.

“The Waldorf Astoria has more undercover NYPD officers watching it today, and they may put a uniformed officer in front of its entrance to act as a deterrent,” Mr. Roman said. Other hotels may assign additional security to a particular shift.

These reactions to the heightened alert in the city will likely last several days or up to two weeks, Mr. Roman predicted.

Officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum said they would now begin work developing an exhibition on the killing of Bin Laden for the museum that is scheduled to open a year from September. It was, of course, too soon to know what shape the exhibit would take.

“It’s our responsibility to tell the full story of 9/11 as major events related to it unfold,” said Joe Daniels, president of the memorial and museum organization. “There’s no question this event requires a significant and important addition to the exhibitions.”

Mr. Daniels also said the fact that Bin Laden was killed before the important tenth anniversary of the attacks—on which the long-awaited memorial will open—was a huge relief to the victim’s family members. It also put the terrorist attacks back front and center into the public’s consciousness, just in time for the memorial opening.

“It shows you that 9/11 and its unfolding story is a part of our lives right now, and it’s great when people remember what happened that day,” Mr. Daniels said.

Down at Ground Zero, officials faced a potential disruption of another sort Monday morning as the news of Bin Laden’s death quickly touched off an avalanche of requests from media organizations clamoring for access to the site. In the end the Port Authority, which owns the site, had to bar all news organizations.

“No work would have been able to progress,” said a spokesman for the Port. “We didn’t want to pick and choose (among the media).”

Media were allowed on the site, however, for a 1 p.m. press conference held by Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the site where 4 World Trade Center is going up. He was accompanied by Mr. Ward, Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Mr. Kelly, Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano and other public officials to address Bin Laden’s death.

At Ground Zero, each day about 2,000 construction workers enter the 16-acre site where work is progressing on the memorial, museum, One World Trade Center, 4 World Trade Center and the Calatrava transit hub.

The memorial is supposed to be ready by the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and the museum is scheduled to open a year later.

One World Trade now stands 64 stories tall and is expected to reach 104 stories by the end of the year. The 3.1 million-square-foot tower is expected to be completed by 2013 and publishing company Condé Nast has been negotiating to lease 1 million square feet in the property. That lease is expected to be signed this month.

At the same time, 4 World Trade, which is owned by Larry Silverstein, is up to 23 floors, and the 72-story tower is expected to be competed by the end of 2013.

One organization that was quick to praise the killing of Osama Bin Laden was Park51, the proposed Muslim community center downtown. A posting on its Facebook page Monday read: “Park51 welcomes the news that Osama bin Laden has been brought to justice. An international terrorist and mass murderer, his killing is a milestone in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism.”

For Nelson Telfare, wearing a U.S. Army veteran’s baseball cap as he sold small American flags around St. Paul’s Chapel across the street from Ground Zero, Bin Laden’s death was a bit of a let down commercially anyway. Despite the unusually large number of people filling the sidewalks Mr. Telfare said he’d sold only about 40 of the small flags as of Monday morning for about a buck each–he says he bought them in Koreatown for 15 cents each.

“It’s not brisk sales,” he said, blaming the fact that many of the people were European tourists.

“A lot of them just smile at me,” he said. “I’m selling, but I would say 90% of the people here are foreigners. And they’re not really feeling that American pride, you know what I mean?”

Brandon Neumann of Melbourne, Australia, was visiting the city when news of Mr. Bin Laden’s death broke last night. He said he remembered vividly when the Twin Towers were attacked, and he felt the need to “join in the celebration.”

“America’s pretty much our closest ally,” he said. “What they feel we feel as well.”

Next door at the Stage Door Deli, business boomed. At least a dozen employees milled behind the counter to help the throngs. Manager Vicky Tavlos said the scene was reminiscent of a 9/11 anniversary, with crowds gathering “straight through from midnight to 7 a.m. this morning.”

The Stage Door shut down for six months after the attacks, and for a year after reopening the place served mostly clean-up crew workers, Ms. Tavlos said. “In the years after, it became sad and slow,” she said.

Since rebuilding started in earnest during the past two years, however, Ms. Tavlos said she has seen signs of a renaissance: “The dynamic is changing, with the Downtown Alliance [promoting local development], even residential and commercial projects. Every little bit is helping.”

Dozens of World Trade Center construction workers, both for the buildings and the memorials, gathered Monday for a lunch break at Zucotti Park.

“Everybody’s got a little bit more bounce in their step today,” said W&W Glass project manager Bruce Hernsdorf, in charge of exterior glass and stainless steel façade work on the Memorial Pavilion.

When finished, the Memorial Pavilion will rise three stories over the entrance to an underground museum between the memorial fountains—“basically equivalent to that pyramid over the Louvre,” Mr. Hernsdorf explained.

Work didn’t slow down Monday, he said. Construction deadlines are short and security at the site already is very tight.

“We go through a retina scan, just like the movies,” Mr. Hernsdorf said. “You’ve got to go through a three-week background check to get a card just so they’ll let you on site.”

Miriam Kreinin Souccar, Jeremy Smerd and Benjamin J. Spencer contributed to this article.

04.28.2011 – Refinancings Plummeted in Minority Areas – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Refinancings plummeted in minority areas

Approvals for refinanced mortgages fell by 14% in New York City neighborhoods with sizeable minority populations while soaring 110% in predominantly white areas at height of recession.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
April 28, 2011 1:57 p.m
The number of mortgage refinancings approved by lenders in New York City’s neighborhoods with sizeable minority populations “plummeted” from 2008 to 2009, the last year for which figures are available, according to report released Thursday by the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project, a fair housing nonprofit. The drop occurred even as refinancings in predominately white neighborhoods soared.

The figures are drawn from a national report covering seven large urban areas, in which NEDAP partnered with six other urban justice organizations. The groups examined the most current federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, focusing on conventional mortgage refinancings.

Combining the New York City figures with demographic data, the group found that lenders decreased the number of loans made in neighborhoods “of color” by 14%, while loans approved to applicants in predominately white neighborhoods soared by 110%.

“In New York, we’re seeing a step in exactly the wrong direction,” said Sarah Ludwig, a co-director of NEDAP. She said the disparity points to the existence of a “dual credit market that corresponds to the racial composition of neighborhoods.”

In a separate statement, she added that “Fair access to credit is absolutely critical to New York City’s communities of color, which have decidedly borne the brunt of the foreclosure crisis—on top of decades of persistent lending discrimination.”

Caitlyn Brazill of New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy said that the rate of housing depreciation could be a factor in lower bank approvals. She pointed to an October 2010 report by the Furman Center focusing on individual borrowers rather than geographic data.

“We did look at home price depreciation across New York City,” Ms. Brazill said, “and there have been greater rates of depreciation in predominately minority areas.”

The NEDAP report also found that loan applications from particularly African-American and Hispanic communities fell even further—by 27%—than approvals from 2008 to 2009, the depths of the recession. During the same period, applications originating from majority white neighborhoods went the other direction, soaring 78%.

Ms. Ludwig said this suggested that banks had not reached out enough to those hardest hit by the subprime mortgage crisis. “There definitely doesn’t seem to be a lot of marketing to these communities,” she said.

The New York Bankers Association did not have an immediate reply.

CLARIFICATION: The report found that approvals for refinanced mortgages fell 14% in New York City neighborhoods with sizeable minority populations. NEDAP partnered with six other organizations nationwide to produce the report, of which New York City numbers were one part, and NEDAP Co-director Sarah Ludwig said banks are not doing enough marketing in minority neighborhoods. These facts were unclear in an earlier version of this article.

04.22.2011 – Boathouse Labor Rally Draws Public Officials – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Boathouse labor rally draws public officials

Workers claiming they were illegally fired from the Loeb Memorial Boathouse restaurant rallied Thursday; the city’s Parks Department has so far stayed out of the fray.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
April 22, 2011 3:46 p.m
Workers who claim they were illegally fired from the Loeb Memorial Boathouse restaurant in Central Park publicly aired their grievances at a union rally adjacent to the restaurant on Thursday, backed up by a chorus of pro-union City Council members and union officials. So far, though, the popular concession’s landlord–the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation—has stayed largely out of the fray.

The Parks Department responded Friday to repeated requests for comment with a written statement.

“The city is not party to this disagreement which is between a labor union and a restaurant operator with a concession to operate at Central Park,” read the statement. “The concessionaire has met all of his obligations to the city under the agreement.”

The rally was the latest turn of events in an intensifying dispute. The New York Hotel Trades Council is representing the group of workers, who said the concession’s operator, Dean Poll, and his managers systematically mistreated workers on the basis of race and sex, stole tips from servers, and improperly fired 14 banquet employees when they attempted to join the Local 6 union chapter in January of this year.

Yasser Nijim, one of the fired employees attending the rally on Thursday, said he worked at the Boathouse for three years, mostly full-time. He said when he and many other employees joined the Local 6 union committee in June of 2010, “management started bribing us.”

“They gave us a raise. They offered us health insurance that we couldn’t afford,” said Mr. Nijim. When he persisted in advocating for the union, he said, his hours were changed drastically. “We’d leave at three in the morning, come back at eight in the morning–that kind of thing,” he said.

Finally, in January, he was terminated along with 13 other union supporters. “It was because we supported the union,” said Mr. Nijim.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, widely considered to be a likely candidate for mayor in 2012, said she was “incredibly concerned and outraged” over the employee reports.

“Operating a business in Central Park is not a right, it’s a privilege,” she said. “The thing about a privilege is that it can be given, and it can be taken away.”

David Weissman, legal counsel for the Boathouse, disputes the charges.
“Boathouse Management has investigated these claims and found that there is no basis for any of them,” Mr. Weissman said via email Friday. He said allegations of union-busting were “untrue” and that claims of racial and sexual harassment were “totally false.”

The union has filed several complaints with the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB said through a spokeswoman Friday that the complaints were “under review.”

City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents the district the Boathouse is located in and also chairs the City Council Parks and Recreation Committee, called on the Parks Department to do more to pressure Mr. Poll to comply with his contract. She said she “wasn’t really pleased with the response of the [Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe] so far.”

“I interpreted his response as a little dismissive,” she said. “I would hope that we’d have a strong partnership with the Parks Department and this administration on these concessions.”

Mr. Weissman said Mr. Poll was in “constant contact” with the Parks Department.

“Not one of the elected officials who spoke out at yesterday’s rally has ever inquired as to any of these claims,” said Mr. Weisman. “The Boathouse welcomes the opportunity to speak with them about any concerns they might have.”

According to the Parks Department website, the city’s contract with Mr. Poll extends until Dec. 31, 2021.

04.21.2011 – Union Plans Rally Today at Central Park Boathouse – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Union plans rally today at Boathouse

The hotel workers union intends to rally Thursday at the Boathouse in Central Park to protest the firing of several employees.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
April 21, 2011 3:52 p.m.
 Updated: April 21, 2011 4:49 p.m.

A long dispute between the New York Hotel Trades Council and restaurateur Dean Poll, the licensed operator of the city-owned Loeb Central Park Boathouse restaurant, is about to take a public turn.

The hospitality workers union, which has been working to organize the Boathouse workers, will hold a rally Thursday outside of the restaurant on the west side of Central Park to protest Mr. Poll’s January firing of 16 banquet employees. The union says Mr. Poll and his management staff fired the 14 of the workers in retaliation for their support of a union drive.

Mr. Poll’s group issued a statement through a spokesman in response to the planned rally.

“Today’s rally by Local 6 is yet another example of the union attempting to force its will on the employees of the Boathouse while at the same time depriving them of their right to vote. If the employees of the Boathouse want union representation, they are entitled to decide that for themselves by way of a secret ballot election,” read the statement.

But a spokesman for the union said Mr. Poll’s actions were “clear cut.”

“Workers tried to unionize, and they fired 16 people,” said the spokesman, adding that several of the fired workers would be speaking at Thursday’s rally.

The workers did indeed file for an election in January. But they argue that Mr. Poll’s actions make a fair election impossible. And they’re hoping the National Labor Relations Board will agree and compel Mr. Poll to bargain with the union.

In its online newsletter, the New York Hotel Worker’s Union said it had also filed “numerous unfair labor practice charges” against Mr. Poll with the National Labor Relations Board.

But the spokesman said today that National Labor Relations Board decision could take years, and the union rally was an attempt to “get the Parks Department to crack down on this now.”

In a separate statement, the Boathouse disputed that the firings had any connection to union organizing, calling the charges “frivolous” and saying that only 14 workers had been let go “because the Boathouse opted to have a full-time staff and reduced the employees based upon seniority.”

“The workers who were let go were on-call, part-time banquet staff, some of whom worked as little one to two days a week and 300 hours a year,” continued the statement, noting that since January, two of the employees had been hired back as seasonal workers.

The spokesman said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer would attend the rally, but their offices could not immediately confirm those plans. The rally is slated to begin at 4:30 p.m.

04.15.2011 – What Tech Bubble? VC Funding Holds – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

What tech bubble? VC funding holds

Nearly 70 companies in the New York area received more than $580 million in funding, according to a Friday report; funding was down 3% from year-ago quarter.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
April 15, 2011 3:49 p.m.

Despite rumblings of a tech bubble, New York area funding for tech startups held fairly steady in the first quarter.

Some 69 companies in the New York area received more than $580 million in funding, according to a Friday report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association. Funding slipped 3% from the first quarter of 2010 but was up 6% over the fourth quarter. The number of deals was down 21% over the first quarter of 2010 and down 22% over the fourth quarter.

“Despite recent hype about both funding gaps and bubbles within the venture capital industry, the first quarter demonstrates an investment pace that is reasonable, rational and relevant to the long-term nature of our business,” said Mark Heesen, president of the National Venture Capital Association, in a statement. “What we are not seeing this quarter is just as critical as what we are seeing.”

In New York, startups in software and IT dominated funding in the first quarter, accounting for $198 million, or 34%, of venture capital dollars, according to the report. The life sciences sector, which includes companies specializing in biotechnology and medical devices and equipment, accounted for 33% of funding, or $190 million. Media and entertainment startups received nearly $129 million in funding in the first quarter; recipients there included Beyond Oblivion, a cloud-based music service that snagged a whopping $77 million in the first quarter—the most of any New York-based company—and question-and-answer website Stack Overflow, which received $12.3 million in funding.

David Silverman, managing partner for PwC’s New York emerging-company practice, said the average deal was high this quarter, reflecting a growing business savvy in New York’s Internet and tech sectors. He said business owners who may have developed two or three other successful tech companies since the 1990s are now bringing their experience to the field.

“What we saw 10 to 15 years ago in San Jose, we’re seeing now in New York City,” said Mr. Silverman.

The New York area still trailed California’s Silicon Valley and New England in tech investments during the first quarter, according to the PwC report. In Silicon Valley, 212 companies received $2.5 billion in first-quarter funding; in New England, 90 firms received $639.3 million.

But the Big Apple is gaining traction. According to a separate analysis from CB Insights, New York state received more venture capital dollars in the first quarter than Massachusetts, which due to its Boston tech scene has long been No. 2. New York brought in $379 million in venture capital in the first quarter, according to CB Insights, compared with $227.6 million for Massachusetts. CB Insights’ report includes five sectors: software, Internet, mobile and telecommunications, computer hardware and electronics.

“There’s a lot of optimism surrounding New York right now,” said CB Insights Co-founder Anand Sanwal. He noted that the city’s seed-stage startup accelerators, which help prepare young companies for evaluation by venture capital firms, are helping.

“They churn out some really interesting companies and entrepreneurs,” he said. “There’s a lot of momentum. The ecosystem just kind of feeds on itself.”

04.14.2011 – Mayor Proclaims City’s First ‘Foursquare Day’ – CRAIN’S NEW YORK BUSINESS

Mayor proclaims city’s first ‘Foursquare Day’

Mayor Michael Bloomberg officially creates the Big Apple’s first social media holiday, named after local startup Foursquare; event will include parties, business discounts and charity events.

By Benjamin J. Spencer
April 14, 2011 3:43 p.m
Dennis Crowley

Buck Ennis [+] Enlarge
Dennis Crowley co-founded Foursquare in Manhattan.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday created the city’s first social media holiday, declaring Saturday, April 16, to be “Foursquare Day” in honor of one of the city’s most successful startups.

Mr. Bloomberg visited Foursquare’s office to announce the holiday, which will be celebrated with parties, business discounts and charity events. More than a dozen cities in the U.S. have officially proclaimed Foursquare Day for April 16—the fourth sixteenth of the year (the mathematically inclined get it: four, squared). Other participating cities include Miami, Atlanta and Austin, Texas.

Foursquare lets mobile phone users “check in” at their current location. A certain number of check-ins can make someone a virtual mayor, and different types of check-ins earn users virtual badges. Checking in also provides Foursquare users with tips and business discounts associated with their location. In return for the free advertising, businesses give discounts to users who recommend them. The social media service currently has 8 million users, more than $20 million in venture capital funding and more than 60 employees (up from five in January 2010). Co-founder Dennis Crowley was named a 40 Under 40 by Crain’s this year.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said honoring companies like Foursquare showcases the city’s focus on promoting its cutting-edge home-grown tech industry.

“New York City has a lot of competitive advantages, most importantly a diverse and skilled workforce,” he said.

The city will also honor Foursquare at the sixth annual Made in New York Awards on June 6. It will be the first time a social media company is honored, said the spokesman.
Mr. Crowley said via email that he was “blown away” by the level of enthusiasm.
“The city has been extremely supportive of what we’re doing, and it’s amazing to get this level of recognition from Mayor Bloomberg,” he said. “Both me and [co-founder Naveen Selvadurai] are long-term New Yorkers, and we have always felt like this is the best place to build a startup.”

Foursquare Day started small last year, when a user in Tampa, Fla. invented it as a way to generate foot traffic to his own company. Meetups quickly multiplied, as did the level of organizer creativity.

This year, Mr. Crowley said, users from “over 500 communities” around the world are sponsoring anything from “scavenger hunts to food drives to actual games of [the schoolyard game] foursquare.”

Big Apple Foursquare users have planned several meetups on Saturday; listings are available on Foursquare. With more time to prepare this year, many businesses have been stepping up to sponsor special events.

One meetup on Saturday will take place at the SideBar. Participants can go online to score a free ride in a double-decker bus from Times Square to the venue, complete with a tour guide and free swag from Pretzel Crisps.

Another meetup will be held at the boutique Roger Smith hotel; festivities include a competitive bacon-eating contest sponsored by the League of Amateur Competitive Eaters.

The marketing potential of Foursquare Day is not lost on businesses, said Walter Elly, emerging technology director at Portsmouth, N.H.-based creative branding company MicroArts.

“All sorts of fun things start to happen when everyone in a town is using Foursquare at the same time,” he said. Last year, more than 30 businesses sponsored events for Portsmouth’s Foursquare Day.