SBD/August 16, 2013/Events and AttractionsPrint All
The WTA New Haven Open at Yale begins Friday, and only the 5,500 seats in the lower bowl of the 13,000-seat Connecticut Tennis Center will be sold in a move "designed to generate more excitement in the venue during matches and ... create a greater demand for tickets," according to Chris Elsberry of the CONNECTICUT POST. Tournament Dir Anne Worcester said the move is "all about creating more buzz and electricity." Worcester: "It has everything to do with this massive stadium that we inherited. We had to accept the fact that our attendance numbers over the last few years are the new normal and that we needed to look at everything with a fresh eye." Elsberry reported the tournament has "adopted a new motto" for this year: "Real Tennis ... Real Close." Worcester said some youth groups could be put in the middle or upper tiers, but there will be "no sales." She added, "An empty seat is a giant message to someone that they don't have to buy in advance. That's been our problem. Even when our attendance was in the mid-80s, our percentage of walk-ups kept growing and the percentage of advanced tickets kept dropping, because when you have 13,000 seats, everyone knows you don't have to buy until the last minute." Elsberry noted the state of Connecticut approved $260,000 "worth of capital improvements" to the venue. Worcester plans to "improve signage, paint all the railings and upgrade the restrooms." The state also will "pay the rent on the CTC," which is estimated at $150,000-$250,000 depending on attendance. Meanwhile, deals with presenting sponsor First Niagara and cornerstone sponsors Yale-New Haven Hospital, AmEx, Yale Univ. and Aetna all expire after this year's event. Worcester indicated that talks "have started with all companies to continue their commitment" (CONNECTICUT POST, 8/15).
SOUTHERN COMFORT: In Winston-Salem, Owen Covington reported the biggest change for the ATP Winston-Salem Open, which begins Saturday, is that the temporary 4,300-seat stadium being used "offers less-crowded and more comfortable seating that completely rings the main court." All seats "have chairbacks, with more legroom and space between each seat, along with 12 portals to the seating instead of just eight." The seating is "part of the broader emphasis on hospitality." That comes across in the tournament slogan: "Big-time tennis, served Southern style" (BIZJOURNALS.com, 8/13). Also in Winston-Salem, Doug Mead noted when the tournament is finished, the stadium "will be dismantled and shipped to Indianapolis, where it will be stored" until it is needed for an event in Atlanta next year. Tournament Dir Bill Oakes said that there is "still no timetable for a permanent stadium" on the campus of Wake Forest Univ. He said that money "is the big reason for the holdup" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 8/14).
Officials at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course are "preparing for a crowd this weekend the likes of which probably hasn’t been seen since the glory days of CART in the 1990s," according to Tim May of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Saturday's Nationwide Series Children's Hospital 200 marks the "first NASCAR-affiliated race in Mid-Ohio’s five decades." Track officials said that advance ticket sales "have exceeded other events this year," including the Izod IndyCar Series race on Aug. 4. Track President Craig Rust said, "When I got here, I immediately said this would be a great market. ... The Nationwide Series is a good fit, especially with Nationwide Insurance and Nationwide Hospital behind (them) -- that's fantastic." May noted there have been "major NASCAR events for years in states bordering Ohio, but before this year, the Truck Series had been the only one to visit the state, for a couple of season at Mansfield Motorsports Park" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/14).
NATIONWIDE IS ON THEIR SIDE: ESPN.com's Brant James wrote Rust is "simply glad Mid-Ohio is in the equation, as the combined ambition of series sponsor Nationwide," which is based about an hour away in Columbus, and promoters Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who purchased the track in '11, "congealed into the first top-three-series NASCAR event at the facility." Montreal's Circuit Gilles Villeneuve "falling off the Nationwide schedule provided the opening, and the way the event has been embraced by local businesses and citizens -- Columbus resident and IndyCar driver Graham Rahal attempted unsuccessfully to land a ride for the event -- has created a spectacle with a home-pride feel" (ESPN.com, 8/15). USA TODAY's Nate Ryan writes there is an "underlying charitable theme" to the race, as 13 cars will feature "varying tributes to patients at a pediatric hospital in Columbus" (USA TODAY, 8/16). The COLUMBUS DISPATCH's May noted Sprint Cup Series driver Marcos Ambrose will be "competing in Nationwide for the first time since winning at Montreal in 2011 and doing so at the behest" of his primary sponsor Stanley (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 8/15).