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WTA TOUR PUTS BENCHMARK AT $8M A YEAR FOR NEW TITLE SPONSOR
Published February 5, 1998
These are "schizophrenic times for women's tennis," according to SI's Jon Wertheim who examines the WTA Tour in "Scorecard." Ratings and attendance are "at an all-time high," prize money "has doubled" since '89, and the game's "stable of young, marketable personalities has never been bigger." One of new CEO Bart McGuire's "most urgent assignments" is to find a title sponsor to replace Corel, which did not renew its four-year, $12M contract after the '98 season. A WTA "insider" said the Tour has "set a negotiating floor" of $8M a year with the next partner, adding "that pays all our administrative costs. We're in big trouble without it." In addition, a pending dispute over the make-up of the WTA Player's Board caused "rumors" at the Australian Open that "top players might form a tour of their own that would feature smaller draws and, consequently, bigger payouts." IMG Senior Exec VP Bob Kain: "I don't necessarily think it will come to that, but it's definitely doable. Historically, the top players have been very sensitive to players lower down, but this coup woke up the sleeping giants" (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 2/9 issue).