SBD/Issue 197/Events & Attractions

Wimbledon TV Deals, Sponsorships Allow Ticket Queue To Continue

AELTC CEO Ian Ritchie Says Corporate
Hospitality Packages Slightly Down This Year
All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (AELTC) CEO Ian Ritchie said that corporate hospitality packages for Wimbledon are "slightly down this year," but that int'l TV deals and sponsorships "allow the 'egalitarian' approach to ticketing," according to David Conn of the Manchester GUARDIAN. Ritchie: "We are about the last event which still allows people to pay on the day. It costs us to organise and steward the queue, when we could very easily sell all tickets in advance at much higher prices. We're committed to keeping Wimbledon accessible to ordinary people. It is about taking a medium- to long-term view, not looking for immediate short-term profit which would diminish the experience and Wimbledon's qualities." Conn writes the crowd at Wimbledon "may be overwhelmingly white and middle-class but the pay-on-the-day system ensures it is not exclusively so" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 7/1). The BBC's Melik & Webber reported corporate hospitality "has fallen" for this year's tourney, and Ritchie is "employing 20% fewer staff." There are "fewer clients and they are less lavish in their entertaining." Meanwhile, the "most important source of revenue" for Wimbledon is the TV and radio rights "from 180 countries which broadcast the event annually." Despite the "modernised facilities there is a concern that the cycle of ever-increasing revenue from global TV rights is coming to an end," though Ritchie maintains that premium events "will always command a premium sum and that will continue for some time to come." Ritchie: "We are not complacent but most of our contracts are for five years and they have all been renewed on enhanced terms" (BBC.co.uk, 6/28).

SURFACE JUDGMENTS: SI.com's Jon Wertheim wrote of players' physical attractiveness reportedly being considered when matches are scheduled for Centre Court, "Apart from insult, you could even argue you're being put at a competitive disadvantage. Unless the troll-like men ... get demoted, this 'policy' stinks." But Wertheim added, "We've often complained that in recent years, the WTA has been long on cash and short on soul. ... You give up some ground on this issue when you sex up your players" (SI.com, 6/30).  In Philadelphia, James Salisbury writes, "It's their tournament. They can do whatever they want as they try to bring attention to their product." The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER's John Gonzalez writes, "It's smart marketing, but it's also a real shame. It's 2009. I, for one, am done with misogyny" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/1). ESPN.com's Jackie MacMullan said, "That to me is absolutely horrible and disgraceful and I can't imagine why a guy would even admit that even if he's anonymous. I think the BBC should be ashamed of themselves if in fact they're doing that and if Wimbledon is complicit in that, they should also be ashamed" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 6/30). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Harvey Araton noted the alleged policy is "news" to Int'l Tennis HOFer Martina Navratilova. Navratilova: "If that were the case, Ana Ivanovic would play every match on Centre and she didn't. I think what they are trying to do is put attractive matches on Centre" (NYTIMES.com, 6/30).

THE ROOF IS ON FIRE: In London, Paul Kelso reports LOCOG officials are "considering scheduling evening matches underneath the Centre Court roof when the Olympic tennis tournament comes to Wimbledon." The success of the roof during Andy Murray's five-set win over Stanislas Wawrinka on Monday night "has increased the chances of Olympic matches being played at night." The AELTC has insisted that it "will not schedule evening sessions during Wimbledon, but no such constraints apply to the Olympic tournament" (London TELEGRAPH, 7/1).

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