ATP Approves Memphis Tourney Sale To Brazilian Venture, Relocation Of San Jose Event
The ATP World Tour formally approved the sale of the Memphis tour stop to a Brazilian joint venture, and the San Jose event will relocate to Memphis. The moves will occur in '14, meaning San Jose will have a farewell run next February. The new Memphis event will be an ATP 250, meaning it will not attract as many top players as the current version. The ATP ranks its top nine events as 1000s, the next 11 (including Memphis) as 500s, and the remaining as 250s. Sharks Sports & Entertainment (SSE) currently owns both events and has agreed to sell the Memphis one to IMG’s Brazil joint venture with IMX. The event will begin in Rio de Janeiro in '14. The ATP board agreed to the move last week, and to the closing of the San Jose stop. “The ATP will determine the calendar and format for 2014 and 2015, as part of its normal process later this year,” said ATP Exec VP/Marketing & Communications Kate Gordon (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal). In Memphis, Phil Stukenborg notes that Memphis has held a pro tennis event "annually at The Racquet Club since 1976." SSE Exec VP/Business Development Mike Lehr said, "We made a commitment when we bought (the Memphis tournament and The Racquet Club in 2008). My opinion is it’s a good venue. There’s a lot we can do when we have a single ATP tournament there as far as making it a bigger event" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 4/24).
LEAVING A VOID: In S.F., Ron Kroichick notes the elimination of San Jose's event "did not come as entirely surprising news, given the SAP Open's struggle to attract top players and sizable crowds in recent years." But it "still counted as a jolt in many ways, given the Bay Area's rich tennis tradition." Lehr said, "The history and longevity of pro tennis in the Bay Area is definitely something we didn't take lightly. That's one reason we're going to continue to try to find ways to bring tennis to San Jose." Lehr was "referring to potential exhibition matches, ideally involving some of the sport's big names." SSE will "remain involved in the tennis business." Lehr "traced attendance woes in the Bay Area to the limitations of HP Pavilion." He said, "Part of it was the single court, and having to spread out the tournament a lot differently than in a facility with multiple courts" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 4/24).