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Volume 24 No. 160

Events and Attractions

The Australian Open announced the “single biggest prize money jump in its long history, with a record prize money pool” of $30M (all figures Australian) -- up $4M from the '12 event, according to Linda Pearce of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. The move is “designed to avoid the mooted strike from the world's best men agitating for a greater share of tournament revenue, but organisers remain resolute in refusing to offer a fixed percentage share of the grand slam's income.” Tennis Australia CEO Steve Wood said that the prize money breakdown “would be released after consultation with the players.” But a redistribution to give a “higher percentage to those who lose in the early and qualifying rounds is guaranteed, bringing the Open into line with the other grand slams.” Wood said, "Our business will suffer from pain as we go to achieve this, but we are committed to making a contribution, a major contribution, to the compensation and the conditions of the players on tour -- and I think $30 million is a major contribution" (, 10/2). In Melbourne, Bruce Matthews notes most of the extra prize money “will be distributed in the first week of the 14-day championship, particularly to the losers in the first three rounds of men's and women's singles.” There also will be “an allocation for the pre-tournament qualifying events.” Wood said, "We're going to be consulting with the players on what sort of distribution they would like, to see how they would like to carve up the $30M prize money. It's important to reward the players, particularly the lower-ranked players. Right before we go live at the Australian Open, we'll be announcing how we distribute the prize money" (, 10/2).

The PGA Tour Fall Series Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open has “one eye fixed on the present and the other on the future” as the tournament “shifts from the end of the season to the beginning and has the Shriners Hospitals for Children go it alone without Justin Timberlake hosting the event,” according to Steve Carp of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. Next year the tournament “will be known as the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open” and will be “part of the Tour's FedEx Cup,” counting towards the playoffs in’14. Currently, as part of the Fall Series, the event has "no points on the line.” To help with the switch, the Shriners “committed an additional five years to the event at TPC Summerlin.” Tournament Chair Raoul Frevel said that the move will “change the entire dynamic of the tournament.” Earlier this summer “about 300 invitations were sent to Tour players that contained a personal message from a Shriners Hospital patient” with the theme "Join The Celebration." The message was “intended to strike an emotional chord while bringing awareness to the forthcoming change,” and it “might have already paid off.” Golfer Vijay Singh, who “hasn't played Las Vegas in years, accepted to play this year and is likely on board for 2013.” Getting the primary focus on the hospitals and their patients was the “primary reason the Shriners and Timberlake have decided to part ways.” The entertainer “wasn't able to generate greater interest in the tournament, and his star power wasn't enough to lure bigger-name players to the event on a consistent basis.” Frevel said, “We tried everything we could to get [Timberlake] more involved with our kids and the hospitals. But it seemed that when the TV cameras weren't on, he disappeared” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 10/1).

Phoenix Int'l Raceway will become the first U.S. track to host the Mexico-based NASCAR Toyota Series. The series, which features Mexican drivers and teams, is in its 10th season and will open its ‘13 season in Phoenix March 1. PIR President Bryan Sperber said, “It’s no secret that reaching the American Latino market is an important initiative for not only PIR but NASCAR as a whole. We believe this will give us an important platform to reach out to the Latino community and have some folks try us out and come to the event, try us on television and hopefully watch more NASCAR racing.” Sperber said that the track will promote the race to Phoenix’ Mexican-American community by working with the local Hispanic chamber of commerce and business leaders. It also plans to bring in celebrities who resonate with Mexican Americans like boxer Fernando Vargas, who will drive the pace car before the race. Sperber said that the track is working to sell Spanish and English-language TV rights in the U.S. The NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series will follow the race at Phoenix with 14 races at eight tracks in Mexico in '13 (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal).

PART OF THE PLAN: NASCAR VP/Regional & Touring Series George Silbermann said that the race “further develops a vision” by Chair & CEO Brian France to “offer racing that appeals to U.S. Latinos.” Silbermann yesterday said, “Mexico has a long and rich motorsports heritage but not necessarily in stock car racing. The whole Mexican motorsports culture has followed either open-wheel racing or sports car racing. Brian made it very clear that a strategic goal of his was to reach a growing fan base and connect with Mexican-American fans here in the states.” The AP’s Jenna Fryer noted the race at PIR is “a one-year agreement, per NASCAR guidelines.” But Silbermann said that it is “part of a long-term plan for NASCAR.” Silbermann: "From a business standpoint, a lot of the series sponsors and partners see the value of a race in the U.S., and everyone sees the value in building the sport among Spanish speaking audiences" (AP, 10/1).