SBD/August 16, 2013/Events and Attractions

WTA New Haven Open Only Selling Tickets For Lower Bowl To Create More Demand

Connecticut recently approved $260,000 in upgrades for the venue
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).
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