This week's "blowback" from the ATP Tour in response to the U.S. Open's switch to a Monday men's final "points to a growing rift between male players and the U.S. Tennis Association, which owns and runs the tournament," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. ATP Board Rep Justin Gimelstob yesterday said that he and other ATP leaders "were frustrated by the USTA's seemingly unilateral announcement Friday to extend the tournament to 15 days." The move "does not address the extra day of work or the long-standing pattern ... of playing the first round over three days instead of two." The ATP also wanted "a bigger increase in prize money than the record $4 million the USTA added." USTA Dir of Corporate Communications Chris Widmaier said that the decision "to move the final to Monday should not have surprised anyone based on communication with the Tour and its top players in recent months." Robson notes by altering its schedule, the U.S. Open will "take a seven-figure hit in the form of a make-good payback to broadcast partner CBS." That deal "ends in 2014" (USA TODAY, 12/19). TENNIS.com's Peter Bodo wrote, "For years on end the serial controversies and steady drone of complaints affected the USTA not at all." Saturday at the U.S. Open "simply seemed like a cash cow with too big a bag to sell off." But five consecutive "Sunday men’s final rainouts has, no pun intended, diluted the original Super Saturday concept and made a mockery of the entire vibe." Bodo: "As well, keeping the players on tenterhooks through rainy Saturdays and Sundays, with so little wiggle room in the schedule, filled them with resentment and justified concern about their health, right down to the fear that the tournament organizers would force them to play on unsafe, slick courts just to get matches done on time -- and thereby avoid lost streams of revenue." Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray in '11 "confronted tournament referee Brian Earley and charged that they were being ordered to go out and play under 'unsafe' conditions." The confrontation "marked the beginning of the end of Super Saturday as we knew it" (TENNIS.com, 12/18).
Events and Attractions
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez yesterday “all but endorsed” holding both the Miami Int'l Boat Show and the '16 Super Bowl “on the same weekend if the National Football League opts to move the championship game to President’s Day Weekend,” according to Douglas Hanks of the MIAMI HERALD. The Dolphins and the team’s backers on the South Florida Super Bowl organizing committee “contend downtown Miami is capable of holding Super Bowl during Boat Show.” South Florida is competing against S.F. for ‘16, and “the loser will take on Houston for the 2017 Super Bowl.” Though South Florida has “already hosted a record 10 Super Bowls, the latest campaign for the big game has brought new tensions.” The issue is “only hypothetical now, since the NFL has not yet scheduled a Super Bowl on President’s Day Weekend.” But it has become “enough of a concern” that South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee Chair Rodney Barreto “received tacit endorsements for his position when he and Dolphins CEO Mike Dee went before the Miami-Dade County Commission after Tuesday’s press event” (MIAMI HERALD, 12/19).
WELCOME TO THE TEAM: In West Palm Beach, Ben Volin notes Barreto yesterday announced former NFLers Dan Marino, Bob Griese and Jason Taylor as the “three honorary co-chairs who will be the face of the local effort.” They will “help sell the local community on the importance of hosting Super Bowl 50.” The three former Dolphins “aren’t allowed to make the official pitch to NFL owners,” but they will be “key players in raising money.” Barreto said that most of the bid “will be put together with private money, and Marino, Griese and Taylor have developed countless local business contacts.” In addition, the Dolphins’ bid “will be supported by at least one of their in-state colleagues.” Jaguars Owner Shahid Khan, who “spent last weekend with Dolphins owner Stephen Ross before the teams played each other Sunday, agreed to get behind the bid.” Still, the “success of the committee’s bid might depend on any improvements to 25-year-old Sun Life Stadium.” Dee said that “nothing is certain yet.” Barreto said the Dolphins will unveil plans “in the very near future.” Previous upgrades discussed by Dee “include a canopy that would leave the field exposed but shield fans from sun and rain; moving seats closer to the field; and improving the stadium’s wireless infrastructure” (PALM BEACH POST, 12/19).
SHOP LOCAL: In New Orleans, Mark Waller reported local companies can “enter a contest to win a pair of tickets” to Super Bowl XLVII if they spend “$500 with firms that participate in the NFL's Emerging Business Program.” The effort is “part of a campaign to boost New Orleans businesses in conjunction with the Super Bowl in February.” The program includes “a database of almost 300 local companies with woman or minority ownership that have been eligible for league-sponsored training sessions and offered opportunities to compete for Super Bowl-related jobs in the months leading up to the game” (NOLA.com, 12/14).