LEADING UP TO THE CHASE, PERSON WORCESTER OFFERS TOUR TALK
In possibly her final news conference as the WTA Tour's
CEO, Anne Person Worcester discussed the state of the Tour
before the Chase Championship finals yesterday.
WHO'LL FOLLOW THIS LEADER? Regarding the search for a
new CEO, Person Worcester said that a search committee will
put forward candidates in the next two weeks for review by
the Tour board. Person Worcester: "We are very confident
that a new CEO will come out of those meetings." If a new
CEO is unable to start by January 1, board member Bob Arrix
will handle interim duties. But Person Worcester reported
that the board has eliminated the requirement for unanimity
in its CEO search. The new CEO vote now requires only a
"super majority" of seven of 10 affirmative votes. Person
Worcester, asked why the search has taken so long: "There's
clearly been different opinions about whether the person
should be an insider or an outsider. ... I completely
believe an outsider could do this job. The staff is very
strong. The board has plenty of tennis experts on it. I
think a fresh perspective would be healthy for this sport.
So I don't share the view that an outsider could not do this
job. I also happen to have believed along the way that
there were some insiders who could do the job. The search
committee didn't share my view" (THE DAILY).
TITLE SPONSOR: IMG will conduct a search for a title
sponsor to replace Corel, who will end its three-year, $12M
sponsorship at the end of '98. Person Worcester noted that
IMG holds the exclusive marketing rights to the Tour through
'99, at which point the Tour board will decide "whether they
want to continue with" IMG or "perhaps take the marketing
and television in-house or do it partly with an agency and
partly in-house." While "very confident that we will find a
Tour sponsor," Person Worcester added "the financial
viability of the WTA is not based on a Tour sponsor. ... The
Tour is in very, very, stable financial health" (THE DAILY).
TV TIME: CNBC's Garrett Glaser examined the Tour's
search for a title sponsor. While Chase Manhattan, "along
with 10 other sponsors will spend more than $1 million" on
the WTA Tour -- "a record" -- it is "facing an uncertain
future." Tennis Week Publisher Eugene Scott: "Surely the
WTA is anxious about replacing such a grand sponsor as Corel
... and you will find that you need at least two years,
maybe three years, to replace an underwriter of that
magnitude." Glaser: "Part of the problem, some say, is that
today's tennis lacks the personalities and rivalries of past
seasons. ... The WTA's solution? Build name recognition and
popularity of the players through autograph sessions,
clinics with sponsors and fans [and] community outreach,
where strong female players are presented as role models."
WTA Tour Dir of Communications Joe Favorito: "We have no
concerns about competing for dollars because we know that
women's tennis has a niche that no other organization has.
We have the history, we have the 25 years, we have the
Martinas and the Billie Jeans. And it's something that
other sports have been aspiring to." Glaser reported that
"it appears Tour strategy is on target" for now, as the WTA
Tour has $100M in worldwide sponsorships, "more than three
times the WNBA's reported $30 million" (CNBC, 11/21).