SBJ/20100927/This Week's Issue

ATP board rejects proposal to create relief fund for events

The ATP World Tour board of directors recently turned down a proposal to create a financial relief fund for its economically distressed events, sources said.

The tour rejected the tournament-backed effort at its board meetings in New York last month. The board of directors has both player and tournament representatives. The players worried the fund could eventually come out of prize money rather than ATP reserves or tournament cash flows.

While many of the tour’s 62 tournaments in 32 countries are doing well, several are struggling mightily. Indeed, at the New York meetings, five events (see box) submitted requests for either financial relief or prize-money reductions, including the ones in New Haven, Conn., and Los Angeles.

The ATP approved a $100,000 payment to the New Haven event, which occurs the week before the U.S. Open, but in return, the ATP can now schedule another event that week. The ATP deferred a request from the Los Angeles event to reduce its 2011 prize money.

The ATP declined to comment. The U.S. Tennis Association, which owns the New Haven event, also declined to comment, but sources said the event is likely to move out of the Connecticut city.

Many smaller ATP events have struggled in the wake of the economic downturn as well as the tour’s calendar restructuring. The calendar change forced the sport’s top players to compete at more elite events, giving them less time to play at the smaller stops.

Also at the ATP board meetings, European-based secondary ticket provider Viagogo presented to the board. The company is already the official secondary ticket provider of the season-ending championships in London. No official action was taken regarding Viagogo, but the tour directed its regional CEOs to facilitate contact between the company and the tournaments.

Outside of the Grand Slams, which are not owned by the ATP, and the season-ending championships, it’s unclear whether there would be enough ticket demand in tennis to justify signing a deal with a secondary ticket provider.

The ATP also formally approved the tour’s FedEx sponsorship (SportsBusiness Journal Sept. 6-12, 2010, issue) and renewed for another three years its sponsorship with Enel, Italy’s largest power company.



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