SBD/Issue 244/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Helfant Eyeing All-Star Event To Build Buzz For ATP World Tour

Helfant Hopes All-Star Event
Will Reach Casual Fans
ATP World Tour Exec Chair & President Adam Helfant will introduce an All-Star showcase next year "as part of his efforts to help boost the sport's popularity," according to Howard Fendrich of the AP. Helfant: "We're looking at it as a way to extend our reach, to reach more casual sports fans and tennis fans. ... It seems to work in other sports. We'll see if it works here. Our players think it will work." Fendrich noted the "idea is to have a one- or two-day event in March, during the week before" the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, "including a skills competition, pro-am celebrity doubles matches and an awards show." There have been "preliminary talks about a TV deal." Meanwhile, Helfant would "like to generate more buzz at the beginning of the season." He is "not sure whether anything can be put in place by the start of 2010, but he wants fans paying more attention in the days leading to the Australian Open each January." Helfant also touched on various other topics, saying that he "does not consider doping or match-fixing a 'significant problem' for tennis," and that "there are 'some very serious conversations with a number of interested parties' that could result in a long-term deal with a new major sponsor beginning in 2010." Fendrich noted Mercedes-Benz "ended its sponsorship of the ATP tour when its contract expired in 2008" (AP, 9/8).  Meanwhile, Helfant took on his role in January and said that he has "learned that there is great concern about the global financial situation and the tennis calendar that stretches across nearly 11 months." Helfant: "There always will be issues with the calendar. We will work to refine it. But I think the system is actually working." Helfant noted attendance is "flat to slightly up," while corporate sponsorship is "basically holding." Meanwhile, tennis player Roger Federer said Helfant is "doing a good job." Federer: "I really think he's close to the players. We have good interaction. We have a great product at the moment obviously with great players at the top, great characters. I think the future looks good. It's very exciting now" (ESPN.com, 9/8).

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