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U.S. OPEN'S SUPER WEEKEND: A NIKE CONSPIRACY?
Published September 8, 1995
As the U.S. Open heads toward its final weekend, the following players and apparel manufacturers are still alive in the singles bracket. MEN: Becker (Lotto) vs. Agassi (Nike), Sampras (Nike) vs. Courier (Nike). WOMEN: Seles (Nike) vs. Conchita Martinez (Ellesse), Graf (Adidas) vs. Sabatini (Head). Filip Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS asks, "Has Nike bought the very sole of the U.S. Open?" Bondy writes the Nike Chair Philip Knight's "invading army took over Flushing Meadows by corporate storm these last two weeks." Some players have criticized Nike's for alleged influencing the schedule, but it is obvious that Monica Seles "is suddenly everywhere ... and with her goes the corporate emblem." Becker on Nike's role: "Nothing personal against Andre or Pete Sampras. They are fortunate enough to have such a strong company behind them." Jana Novotna says she used to get upset about scheduling and other things, but now she realizes it's a "television decision. Nike decision." Jim Courier, sarcastically: "Phil pretty much just decides what court he wants to sit and watch a match on." Bondy writes, "As their strength has grown, the Nike athletes have grown defensive about their star power. ... The impression is unmistakable. America's top players are more visibly Nike than they are red white and blue" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/8). George Vecsey writes that "Monica-mania has been getting worse as she rampaged through" the Open. Seles has "been the most fascinating player in this tournament, even if she plays for Nike, that rogue corporation" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/8). NEWS AND NOTES: CNBC's "Sports View" reported on the sponsorship dollars at this year's U.S. Open. USTA President & CEO Les Snyder: "Because of the nature of the Grand Slams you get a deeper market penetration, so we are broadcasting to 137 countries, so many of our sponsors are international sponsors." CNBC's Mabel Jong reported, "The stakes are rising. It's a $3 billion industry that has been growing at double digits for the past ten years, and is gaining more momentum as more and more companies see it as a powerful marketing tool" (CNBC, 9/7). In Detroit, Jerry Green writes on the marketing of Pete Sampras. Sampras believes the Pizza Hut commercial with John McEnroe "came off pretty well" (DETROIT NEWS, 9/8). Sampras talked about Nike's ads after his match yesterday, saying he believed they have helped his image (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/8). INFRASTRUCTURE: Wallace Matthews of the N.Y. POST writes on the publicly financing going towards a new stadium being built by the USTA as a future home for the Open. Then-NYC Mayor David Dinkins made a deal with the USTA where the city "took 42 acres of prime real estate intended for the free use of the public and gave it over to the Westchester-based USTA for the next 99 years." Even though the Open's "projected gross profits this year are more than $46 million," the city will only get $400,000 in rent plus 1% of profits after the first $25M are deducted. Matthews: "The greed of Steinbrenner is one thing. The arrogance and elitism of the USTA is quite another" (N.Y. POST, 9/8).