SBD/August 26, 2013/Events and Attractions

WTA New Haven Open Attendance Drops About 10%, While Sponsor Talks Continue

New Haven Open fans sat only in the lower ring of the Connecticut Tennis Center
WTA New Haven Open Tournament Dir Anne Worcester was "working hard to put a positive spin on this year's tournament" despite the fact that, "on paper, attendance was down close to 10 percent," according to Chris Elsberry of the CONNECTICUT POST. Worcester said, "I thought we had a lot more fan-friendly entertainment and I think that bringing the people down to the lower bowl all helped with the fan experience. I think this was my least stressful tournament in my 16 years here." Attendance was "down 7,208 from last year," as official figures "had 45,796 attending the 2013 tournament." Worcester: "We need to do an even better job of selling tickets next year." Worcester said that paid attendance for '13 "was up over last year, as were ticket revenues." Although Worcester "didn't have exact figures, she said that individual sales were up 'around 5 percent' and that multi-session packages and group sales were up 'around 18 percent.'" Worcester added that talks have "started with the four cornerstone sponsors -- American Express, Yale-New Haven Hospital, Yale University and Aetna -- and presenting sponsor First Niagara." She said that "there are 'positive signs' that all want to continue their relationship with the tournament." The sponsors' original three-year agreements expire after the '13 tournament (CONNECTICUT POST, 8/25). In Connecticut, Roger Cleaveland reported attendance at the event "dropped for the eighth straight year to its second-lowest total ever." At its "height as a single, combined men's and women's tournament, it drew 100,375 fans" in '05. Week-long tournament box sales "dropped about" 10% (Waterbury REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN, 8/25).

SCALING BACK: In Hartford, Lori Riley noted the tournament this year "consolidated the fans into the lower box seat ring, which seats 5,500, shutting off the upper ring of the Connecticut Tennis Center." The entire stadium "seats 13,000." Worcester said that as a result of the consolidation, the tournament "gave away fewer complimentary tickets to charity groups and the like and also cut back on the amount of tickets they gave sponsors" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/25). In New Haven, Chris Hunn noted the tournament is "giving less tickets away" and "thus selling more." Worcester "seems confident that professional tennis will be back in New Haven." Worcester: "I can’t sit here and say I’ve got funding for the next three years. ... But I couldn’t be more optimistic about those five cornerstones renewing." She "hopes for a new contract to be announced in October." Worcester also "did not rule out the possibility of a title sponsor and [said] that there are some potential new cornerstones." The tournament also has "received funding from the state, which has been critical." Worcester: "It’s the first time in my 16 years the state has recognized the value of this tournament. ... They’re taking baby steps. A major investment in physical improvement and permanent infrastructure, and making the building a multi-purpose facility is still a few years off" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 8/25).

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