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WTA'S MCGUIRE POLITELY DECLINES ATP OFFER OF JOINT EVENTS
Published March 23, 1998
WTA Tour CEO Bart McGuire said yesterday that while the ATP Tour has proposed joint men's and women's tennis events which pool sponsorship and TV revenue, his "priority" is to obtain a new long-term title sponsorship deal and a new TV deal for the women's tour. Speaking with the media at the Lipton Championships, McGuire said he has "philosophic concerns, economic concerns, and some very practical concerns about the joint venture concept." McGuire: "I really doubt that the WTA Tour and the ATP Tour can agree on prize money, revenue sharing, television exposure, to say nothing of issues like practice and locker room facilities." McGuire said he had not "quite shut the door on the joint venture concept," but added that it is "not likely to happen in the near future." McGuire will "consider the creation of new combined events on an individual basis" (WTA Tour). In Sunday's N.Y. TIMES, ATP Tour CEO Mark Miles said he was "enormously frustrated" by the WTA Tour's perception that any merger would undermine its position as the No. 1 women's sport in the world. Miles: "I'm absolutely convinced that nothing they can do on their own would generate as much revenue as they would receive if they did collaborate with us, and I also don't think the combined tour would impair the ATP Tour's identity or that of the women." The TIMES' Robin Finn: "Is tennis at a gender crossroads just in time for the millennium? It looks that way" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22). THAT'S RIGHT, THE WOMEN ARE STRONGER? In Miami, Edwin Pope wrote on the crowds at the Lipton and called it the "biggest sports-spectator event in South Florida history." He added that "male professionals are trying to get back up to speed with the females since Martina Hingis, Venus and Serena Williams and Anna Kournikova ... arrived. Women are coming on stronger than ever while the men's game is headed for a crowd-appeal crisis" (MIAMI HERALD, 3/22). OTHER WTA NEWS: McGuire said the Tour's Board of Directors ratified the settlement to the players' dispute announced in February. The Board also voted to add three "independent, senior business executives, with no financial interest in tennis," and agreed to eliminate the requirement that matters be unanimously agreed upon." Finally, the Tour will also open a European office in London to be headed by its Dir of European Operations Georgina Clark (WTA Tour).