- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 22, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — For the second year in a row, Baltimore will host the internationally televised Miss USA beauty pageant.

State and city officials made the announcement yesterday, speaking from the First Mariner Arena, where the pageant will be held April 21.

Tourism officials said that pageant guests spent $2 million to $3 million in the state this year and that the broadcast provided about $6.5 million in free advertising.

“We thought, ‘Gosh, now that we’ve done it once, think how much better we’ll do it this time,’” Paula Shugart, president of the Miss Universe Organization, the pageant’s parent company, told the Baltimore Sun.

The pageant — which is co-owned by NBC and Donald Trump — typically changes location each year, and next year’s contest was open to bids from other cities.

But Dennis Castleman, the state’s assistant secretary of tourism, film and the arts, was determined to bring the pageant back to Baltimore.

Shortly after this year’s pageant ended, he handed Miss Shugart a letter stating the city’s intentions to win Miss USA back.

Now, Mr. Castleman said, “We’re really excited.”

So, reportedly, is NBC, which Miss Shugart said praised the city’s “metropolitan, cosmopolitan look.”

Next year, the competition is moving to the arena from the Hippodrome, which organizers said wasn’t big enough.

The broadcast will feature different parts of Maryland, and — for three weeks leading up to the competition — the contestants will get their beauty rest at the Wyndham Baltimore-Inner Harbor hotel. The 2005 participants stayed at a Sheraton in Columbia because the city was unable to find housing.

The Baltimore 2005 pageant attracted about 8.1 million viewers, compared with 13 million the previous year, NBC said. That number approached the 55-year-old pageant’s 7.6 million low in 2002, which led CBS to drop the show.

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