SBJ/September 10-16, 2012/Events and Attractions

U.S. Open projecting solid attendance, but no record, with ticket sales under 720,000

The U.S. Open Tennis Championships are likely to post attendance of less than 720,000 for this year’s fortnight, a few thousand short of the event’s record, tournament officials said last week.

The Grand Slam touts itself as the highest annually attended sporting event in the world.
Photo by: GETTY IMAGES
The tournament was to have ended Sunday, weather permitting. Last week’s rain also could have the effect of deflating the tournament’s overall attendance in light of more liberal policies from the U.S. Tennis Association that allowed ticket holders to attend another session this past fortnight instead of only returning next year.

“This is the event to be at in New York at the end of summer,” said Gordon Smith, executive director of the USTA, which owns and operates the event.

The Grand Slam tournament touts itself as the highest annually attended sporting event in the world, though that considers only paid events and excludes free-to-attend events, such as marathons. Its organizers also soon will consider attendance in the 700,000-range low.

Speaking before last Tuesday’s rainout, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said the event was tracking to sell fewer than 720,000 tickets. The USTA’s facility renovation plans, slated to be implemented over the next decade, will allow for attendance of another 10,000 fans a day over nine different day sessions. That could push the Open’s future attendance to more than 800,000.

At least one session of Open play had been rained out as of last Wednesday. Tickets for that session are counted toward attendance for this year. However, the Open created a special session on its second court the next day for those ticket holders as well as allowing them to come to a different day session later in the week, actions that could have consumed tickets that otherwise would have been sold. In the past, ticket holders typically would have had to exchange their tickets for tickets to the following year’s Open, a difficult option for the event’s many fans who come in from out of town.

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