SBD/August 25, 2014/Events and Attractions

Connecticut Open Sees Attendance Increase From '13 After Staving Off Relocation

Attendance figures show a small increase from '13 but a step in the right direction
The '14 WTA Connecticut Open tennis tournament "finished with an overall attendance of 47,140" -- up 1,344 from the '13 total of 45,796, according to Chris Elsberry of the CONNECTICUT POST. The figures represent "a small increase but a step in the right direction." Connecticut Open Tournament Dir Anne Worcester said, "There have been a lot of positive changes." The tournament this year "upgraded its food services with several new vendors and added a men's 'Legends' event" featuring Connecticut native James Blake playing Jim Courier one night and Andy Roddick the next. Worcester said the event was "exceedingly successful." She added, "Attendance is up, so we're happy about that. We hope that we're reversing the trend and we can begin to grow it back year by year. There's a new kind of energy. People are excited that the event is still here." Long-term plans for the Connecticut Tennis Center "include the installation of a new heating/air conditioning system," as well as a "permanent kitchen/catering facility" (CONNECTICUT POST, 8/24). In Hartford, Paul Doyle noted the crowd of 3,285 for Saturday's title match was the tournament's "lowest final day attendance" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/24).

BACK IN (THE) BLACK? In New Haven, Chip Malafronte wrote when the state of Connecticut "saved the event from relocation last fall, allocating $618,000 to prevent the city’s last bastion of pro sports from fleeing to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, many wondered whether the investment was sound," and if the tournament was "even worth saving." It appears the state "is happy with the new direction" after year one of the deal. All goals and targets, including attendance, "were surpassed." Connecticut Budget Dir Ben Barnes said, "We want to operate in the black, and we’re very close to operating in the black." But one "glaring trend that’s held over from previous years: smallish crowds that often leave large swaths of Stadium Court seats unoccupied" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 8/24). The AP's Pat Eaton-Robb noted this year's weeklong crowd of 47,140 was "still far below the more than 90,000 it drew a decade ago and the 76,480 who came" in '10, the last year it was a combined men's and women's event (AP, 8/23).

CAROLINA IN MY MIND: ATP Winston-Salem Open Tournament Dir Bill Oakes said that he received "universally positive feedback" from players at the tournament last week, and the "report card he received from the ATP ... was glowing." Oakes also said that the tournament sponsors "had good things to say about this year's tournament." Oakes: "We had new a seating configuration this year with more legroom for fans and wider, more comfortable seats" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 8/24).
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