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April 30, 2000

Nasdaq is politely rebuking critics who say that its MarketSite Tower in New York

By Sanford Wexler

By some estimates, MarketSite, featuring the massive electronic outdoor zipper, could soon be profitable, especially if more of the estimated 1.5 million daily souls on Times Square visit.

About 10,000 people have toured the fancy three-story building since it opened in late December. Nasdaq expects foot traffic to increase as soon as other attractions are added. A marketing campaign and official opening is planned.

MarkeSite is a self-supporting entity. News organizations pay Nasdaq a fee for using the center's broadcast facilities, advertisers pay to put up outdoor signage while a gift shop sells Nasdaq trinkets, such as coffee mugs and t-shirts. There is a $7 admission charge.

"With the advertising from the outside sign," said Brian Holland, Nasdaq's executive vice president, worldwide marketing, "it could be a net-generating profitable vehicle for Nasdaq."

The big attraction at MarketSite is the interactive exhibit center. A circular bank of computers allows visitors to play educational and stock market games and to study how the markets function. "It's a reality game based upon real prices and real companies over the past fifteen years," Holland said. The game is so successful that Nasdaq plans to issue it as a CD-ROM.

At street level, a three-story glass enclosed broadcast studio allows reporters from Bloomberg, CNBC, CNNfn, MSNBC and others to give market updates. That guarantees Nasdaq the kind of public exposure money can't buy.