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Volume 24 No. 156

Events and Attractions

The Australian Open is making an “unprecedented push into the sport's new frontier and doing it via a handful of digital platforms” in order to “capitalise on a booming interest in tennis in China,” according to Adam Cooper of the Melbourne AGE. Tennis Australia staff “will publish news stories, updates, photographs, audio, video clips and live scoring” on media outlets such as social networking website Yuku, Sina Weibo -- "the Chinese equivalent of Twitter" -- and Tencent QQ “in a bid to take the Open to Beijing and beyond.” China “boasts one of the best women's players” in Li Na, but the sport is “only starting to take off in the country” with an estimated 14 million participants. Tennis Australia Digital & Publishing Manager Kim Trengove said that it “makes sense for the Australian Open to be promoted heavily in China, given the tournament's position as the grand slam of Asia and the Pacific, and that Australia's geographic proximity to Asia gives it advantages over the host nations of the other three majors.” Tencent QQ, one of the “most popular portals in China, also has a seemingly insatiable appetite for everything to do with the Australian Open, and will send four journalists to Melbourne to cover the event.” In addition, Tennis Australia has “employed Chinese language students from universities across Melbourne to help market Melbourne Park back to their homeland” (Melbourne AGE, 1/13).

NEW LOOK: The AGE’s Cooper in a separate piece reported stage one of a redevelopment plan has been “completed at Melbourne Park in time for the Australian Open, and one of the featured developments are elevated viewing spots overlooking the practice courts.” Viewed from a “new public area built around Hisense Arena,” the courts are part of the National Tennis Centre, the “new home for Australia’s brightest tennis prospects.” But during the Open they “will be used as practice courts where fans will get a closer look at the top players.” The National Tennis Centre, which has “eight indoor courts and 13 outdoor courts, is the standout of the [US$386M] redevelopment works that began” in early ’11. The project is “meant to ensure Melbourne will host the Australian Open” until ’36 and is “set to give visitors a new look over the next few years” (Melbourne AGE, 1/13).

Santa Clara officials last week "began weighing whether the city can still make money from a Super Bowl and related events after stomaching a new list of financial demands from the NFL -- including giving up huge chunks of tax revenue," according to Mike Rosenberg of the SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS. The 49ers' new Silicon Valley stadium remains a "finalist to host either the 50th or 51st Super Bowl in 2016 or 2017," and before local leaders can submit a bid in May to host the game, the NFL is "requiring the Santa Clara City Council to formally adopt a resolution of support for the Super Bowl." The exact terms of the deal still are "being discussed in closed session, beginning with a meeting held Tuesday, and could be finalized before the end of the month." City Attorney Ren Nosky said that the NFL essentially "wants to lease the $1.2 billion Santa Clara stadium and the surrounding area ... for Super Bowl week at a much cheaper rate than normal." The league also "wants other concessions, including possible tax breaks or a portion of the tax revenues received from hotels or other venues during the events." Additionally, NFL Senior VP/PR Greg Aiello said that the league "requires host cities to forego sales tax charges on Super Bowl game tickets, which are typically very pricey." Other host cities have "exempted the NFL and its employees from taxes on visits and sales during the Super Bowl" (SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS, 1/12).

MILE HIGH WISHES: In Denver, Mike Klis reported the Broncos and city officials "continue to work toward their bid to host the Super Bowl." They are "in the process of bidding to host the Super Bowl in 2018, 2019 or 2020." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell before Saturday's Ravens-Broncos game said, "My personal view is, the game of football is to be played in the elements. There are people who like to see the Super Bowl played in absolutely pristine conditions, where everything is the same and there's no weather elements at all. I just don't think that's football." The league will "test the concept" of having a Super Bowl in a cold-weather stadium next year when the game is played at MetLife Stadium in N.Y. Goodell said of holding the Super Bowl in N.Y.: "It was a great opportunity to look at 'Will this work?' Is this something that can have a real positive change for the NFL? We'll see" (DENVER POST, 1/12).