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SBD/Issue 232/Events & Attractions
U.S. Open: Kantarian Calls Purse A Record For All Of Sports
Published August 26, 2003
|Kantarian Hopes To Leverage
The Popularity Of The Open
DAY ONE: A crowd of 29,098 spectators attended yesterday's U.S. Open afternoon session at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, "just 233 down from last year" (USA TODAY, 8/26). The evening session drew 21,853.
THE CHIEF SPEAKS: USTA CEO Arlen Kantarian yesterday said the $17M total purse for the U.S. Open is "not only a record for tennis" but for all "of sports." Kantarian, on the festivities and activities surrounding the U.S. Open: "One of the strengths of tennis is the simplicity of the game, but that doesn't mean you can't create an experience around that game to draw more casual tennis fans to it. Once they experience that game they're back. What we're doing here is trying to add a dimension to tennis without always being centerstage." Kantarian, on marketing the players, especially their sex appeal: "I think it's an advantage that tennis inherently has. What America is looking for is that combination of athleticism, entertainment, good looks — and the tennis players bring more of that than maybe any other sport. ... That's part of the intrigue of this sport that we're going to go out and market" ("The Biz," CNNfn, 8/25).
FOOD FIGHT PART I: In N.Y., Steve Popper reports that fans entering the tournament yesterday "were stopped at the gate and informed that no food could be brought into the facilities, which in turn prompted an angry response from fans." The angry response "prompted a change from the USTA by early afternoon," when a piece of tape "was placed over the 'No food' line on the signs that listed all of the prohibited items" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/26). USTA Managing Dir of Marketing & Communications David Newman: "The fans spoke, and we responded. We always strive to create a fan-friendly environment." In N.Y., Wayne Coffey reports that food will continue to be allowed for the remainder of the two-week event (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/26). Also in N.Y., Harrison & Sheehy note that before the rule was reversed, fans for a $5 fee could "check in" their food and leave them at the front gate to pick up as they left. Fan Maryann Kelly said, "It was disgusting — there were people in their 70s and 80s having sandwiches and drinks taken off them" (N.Y. POST, 8/26). Tennis analyst Mary Carillo, on the food ban: "This is the most outrageous thing so far at the U.S. Open, and it's only day one. ... People are throwing out perfectly good pastrami sandwiches in the big garbage cans going into the Open. People are outraged. As a New Yorker, as a chick from Queens, I think that's terrible too" ("PTI," 8/25).
FOOD FIGHT PART II: Harrison & Sheehy note that some fans were "suspicious that concessionaires' profits were the real motive," adding that a bottle of Evian costs $4.50 and a hot dog with fries costs $7.75 (N.Y. POST, 8/26). But John Harding of Restaurant Associates, the company catering the U.S. Open, "defended the lofty prices," saying, "Prices are the same as they've been in the past few years. And if you compare these prices to, say, the Super Bowl, they are quite comparable, if not a little cheaper." In N.Y., Braden Keil notes that in addition to concession stands, the USTA Center "features several fancy restaurants that could easily compete with many of Manhattan's top-rated eateries" (N.Y. POST, 8/26).
|Hired Guns: The Mardy Fish Fan Club|
FISH FOOD: ESPN.com's Darren Rovell notes that during American Mardy Fish's first-round match yesterday, six fans had "fish heads covering their faces and 'G-O-F-I-S-H' spelled out on their chests." Rovell writes, "The idea was dreamed up by a marketing firm, and the makeshift Fish Fan Club members were actually hired guns." Fish is the third-ranked American in the tournament behind Andre Agassi and Andy Roddick, and despite being ranked 24th in the world, he is "relatively unknown outside the hard-core tennis circles." Fish's family hired Bennett Global Marketing Group to promote Mardy, which in turn hired the six "Fish Freaks," who received "a free ticket and a small stipend" (ESPN.com, 8/26). Fish's father, Tom Fish: "Tennis needs some fun things. That's fun. I think it livened up the crowd" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/26).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Serena Williams, on the effect that she and sister Venus have had on women's tennis: "Women's tennis in general is definitely up, and everybody is really looking at women's tennis and everybody is focusing on women's tennis. Venus and myself have a lot to do with that because we bring a whole different crowd to watch tennis. ... I guess the ratings speak for themselves, to be honest with you, but either way, women's tennis is very exciting" ("Live From The Headlines," CNN, 8/25)....USA TODAY's Tom Clark notes Anna Kournikova is serving as USA Network's "entertainment" reporter during the U.S. Open, and writes that Kournikova "isn't necessarily looking at this experience as an audition for a new career." Her management firm, Octagon, said that she is taking the assignment "to be able to 'interact' with the Open," because she has "always loved [N.Y.] and its fans" (USA TODAY, 8/26)....Last night's episode of "Inside Edition" profiled the romantic relationships between Andy Roddick and singer/actress Mandy Moore, Robby Ginepri and actress Minnie Driver, and Mark Philippoussis and actress Tara Reid ("Inside Edition," 8/25)....New U.S. Open camera sponsor Olympus today runs a quarter-page ad in USA TODAY, which includes the U.S. Open logo. The text reads in part, "A 10x optical zoom so you can rush the net without being hauled off by security. The C-750 Ultra Zoom. Proud to be a part of the U.S. Open" (USA TODAY, 8/26).