SBD/August 8, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
Tennis Canada yesterday announced that Bernard Tomic and Feliciano Lopez, losers in the the first round of the ATP side of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, "will fly to Toronto and play an exhibition match" tonight at the WTA side of the event "as a means of giving customers a little more bang for their tennis buck," according to Damien Cox of the TORONTO STAR. All the first-round losers at ATP event "were offered [C]$20,000 and expenses to volunteer for the match." The concept is "in its early stages, but it may be the beginning of a 'men’s invitational' that will be part of the Rogers Cup women’s event every year as a way to attract more customers and corporate business." This is the third year in which the Rogers Cup has "staged a 'virtual' combined tournament, with the women and men playing simultaneously in Toronto and Montreal after years of holding the events in separate weeks." An additional exhibition on Friday night in Toronto will see James Blake face retired player Pete Sampras, while Jim Courier and John McEnroe also are "scheduled to participate in Toronto exhibition matches." The men's matches "are expected to take place in prime time." The move serves as a "startling admission that the women are now less marketable, a combination of the loss of many stars to retirement and the absence of a new generation of talented players with a resume of major victories." The women’s side of the Rogers Cup already has "resorted to a hit-and-giggle doubles exhibition on Monday night involving the Williams sisters, Canadian up-and-comer Eugenie Bouchard and former great Monica Seles." The men’s event "has had no similar exhibitions" (THESTAR.com, 8/7).
ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL: In Toronto, Ian Shantz writes at a press conference with Billie Jean King, it was "suggested that the women might feel slighted or offended by the men playing here, for money -- a concept that, by all accounts, was thought up as a revenue generator, to be used later on athlete resources." But King said, "I don’t think it matters. It’s tennis." WTA Chair & CEO Stacey Allaster said, "It's about generating money for the development of the sport. Ultimately, that's what it's about. I wouldn't get all fussed about it." WTAer Sloane Stephens said, "I think that sponsors just want to see more matches, see more people play. I don’t think it has anything to do with women not being entertaining" (TORONTO SUN, 8/8).
DOUBLE STANDARD? In N.Y., Ben Rothenberg wrote last week's Citi Open in DC, in its second year as a joint ATP-WTA event, "unabashedly gives preferential treatment to the men." Perhaps this is "most noticeable in the court assignments." At this year’s event, which ended Sunday, "23 men’s singles matches were played in the main stadium, compared with six for the women." Event organizers said that the men's event, "which has existed since 1969, is more established than the women’s event, which has existed in the Washington area for only three years." The men's event also "awards significantly more prize money and ranking points." But "perhaps the most notable difference this year was that the women were allowed to use the newly renovated indoor locker room facilities beneath the stadium." The men "had sole access to the indoor facilities last year, while the women used locker rooms, bathrooms and toilets in trailers and tents" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/5).
Bellator will offer its first PPV card on Nov. 2 and Chair & CEO Bjorn Rebney "surely will have his promotional chops tested like never before during the run-up to an event situated on one of the busiest, most compelling stretches in UFC history," according to Josh Gross of ESPN.com. The Bellator event featuring Tito Ortiz against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is sandwiched between UFC 166, which will feature Cain Velasquez's third fight with Junior dos Santos, and UFC 167, the 20th anniversary show headlined by Georges St-Pierre against Johny Hendricks. Many fans are "likely to opt against paying their local cable or satellite distributor $35-45 to witness 38-year-old Ortiz fight 35-year-old Jackson." No MMA promotion except the UFC has "marshaled a successful pay-per-view campaign, and history says a weak response for Ortiz and Jackson, despite their strong brands and long-held UFC ties, is the most likely outcome." Rebney said that Bellator is "primed for success any time it chooses to go" to PPV, which "won't be more than a couple of times a year at the beginning." Rebney: "We've got the best distribution platform in the history of combat sports, and that's Spike. ... We're not going to do it month in and month out. We're not going to throw up PPV after PPV after PPV and say, 'Here, buy this.'" Rebney added, "We're not going to throw up PPVs that belong on free TV. If we've got an amazing card, an amazing event, we may do it on PPV. We're not going to do it every three or four weeks." Gross wrote even Rebney's "most vocal critics would concede he did well by advancing Bellator up the food chain to the point that Viacom, a major media conglomerate, took notice and purchased a controlling stake" (ESPN.com, 8/6).