SBD/October 11, 2013/Events and Attractions

State Of Connecticut Ready To Buy New Haven Open, Prevent Tournament Move

USTA execs originally had agreed to sell the tourney and move it to North Carolina
The state of Connecticut is "preparing to spend $618,000 to purchase the New Haven Open from the USTA, avoiding the event’s move to Winston-Salem, N.C.," according to Chris Hunn of the NEW HAVEN REGISTER. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said that the Capital Region Development Authority "will vote on it at a meeting on Thursday." The USTA had "agreed to sell the tournament and move it to North Carolina, making it a combined event" with the current men’s tournament, the Winston-Salem Open. But the ATP "turned it down, which opened a short and exclusive window for the state to buy the event and keep it in Connecticut." It also was announced that the tournament’s "five cornerstone sponsors -- Aetna, American Express, First Niagara, Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital -- will renew their sponsorships." Four of the five "have agreed to a three-year deal," while Aetna’s deal has yet to be finalized. The tournament went to "a cornerstone model after Pilot Pen Corp. of America announced in 2010 it would not renew its sponsorship after a 15-year run." It also "dropped its men’s side just five years after it had been added." Secretary of the state Office of Policy & Management Ben Barnes said that the New Haven Open "will remain the name of the tournament." Tournament Dir Anne Worcester also will "keep her title." Barnes said that public ownership of a tournament like this "is not unusual around the world, but certainly new" to the U.S. (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 10/11). In Hartford, Doyle & Keating note the WTA will "lease the operation to another entity or a nonprofit group" (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/11). Barnes said that a nonprofit or special-purpose entity "likely will be created to take over the operations from Connecticut Professional Tennis, the for-profit organization which has leased the tournament's sanction from the USTA" (AP, 10/10).

IS IT WORTH IT? In Hartford, Jeff Jacobs writes, "The bang is in the state of Connecticut's stepping in to buy the rights to the tournament. The bang is in the politics." Should the state "ever be involved in owning a sports entity?" Jacobs: "It doesn't bother me one iota that the state is paying 618 grand to save the event. In the world of state government, it's a pittance." But is the New Haven Open "really, really worth all the aggravation to save?" Jacobs writes, "I'm just saying that as a state sports event, it has to make a bigger impact, a much bigger impact" (HARTFORD COURANT, 10/11).
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