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Volume 24 No. 156

Events and Attractions

The '14 WTA Connecticut Open tennis tournament "finished with an overall attendance of 47,140" -- up 1,344 from the '13 total of 45,796, according to Chris Elsberry of the CONNECTICUT POST. The figures represent "a small increase but a step in the right direction." Connecticut Open Tournament Dir Anne Worcester said, "There have been a lot of positive changes." The tournament this year "upgraded its food services with several new vendors and added a men's 'Legends' event" featuring Connecticut native James Blake playing Jim Courier one night and Andy Roddick the next. Worcester said the event was "exceedingly successful." She added, "Attendance is up, so we're happy about that. We hope that we're reversing the trend and we can begin to grow it back year by year. There's a new kind of energy. People are excited that the event is still here." Long-term plans for the Connecticut Tennis Center "include the installation of a new heating/air conditioning system," as well as a "permanent kitchen/catering facility" (CONNECTICUT POST, 8/24). In Hartford, Paul Doyle noted the crowd of 3,285 for Saturday's title match was the tournament's "lowest final day attendance" (HARTFORD COURANT, 8/24).

BACK IN (THE) BLACK? In New Haven, Chip Malafronte wrote when the state of Connecticut "saved the event from relocation last fall, allocating $618,000 to prevent the city’s last bastion of pro sports from fleeing to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, many wondered whether the investment was sound," and if the tournament was "even worth saving." It appears the state "is happy with the new direction" after year one of the deal. All goals and targets, including attendance, "were surpassed." Connecticut Budget Dir Ben Barnes said, "We want to operate in the black, and we’re very close to operating in the black." But one "glaring trend that’s held over from previous years: smallish crowds that often leave large swaths of Stadium Court seats unoccupied" (NEW HAVEN REGISTER, 8/24). The AP's Pat Eaton-Robb noted this year's weeklong crowd of 47,140 was "still far below the more than 90,000 it drew a decade ago and the 76,480 who came" in '10, the last year it was a combined men's and women's event (AP, 8/23).

CAROLINA IN MY MIND: ATP Winston-Salem Open Tournament Dir Bill Oakes said that he received "universally positive feedback" from players at the tournament last week, and the "report card he received from the ATP ... was glowing." Oakes also said that the tournament sponsors "had good things to say about this year's tournament." Oakes: "We had new a seating configuration this year with more legroom for fans and wider, more comfortable seats" (WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL, 8/24).

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has "assembled a Boston Grand Prix committee" and "is in contact" with Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles in a bid to land a Verizon IndyCar Series race, according to Richard Weir of the BOSTON HERALD. Officials from the Walsh administration have "met recently with Mark Perrone, president of the nascent Grand Prix Boston, who is spearheading the drive to bring the open-wheel championship race to town." Perrone did not say where he was looking to hold the event, but an administration official said that the group was "considering the less residential Seaport District." Walsh in June wrote a letter to Miles saying that he had "created the Boston Grand Prix Association, a steering committee comprised of business and civic leaders to help organize the event, and that his administration was working closely with Perrone and his staff." Walsh has said in the past that he "wants to put Boston more on the national sports stage by trying to lure" the NFL Draft, as well as the Final Four and other pro all-star games (BOSTON HERALD, 8/23).

LIKE A FINE WINE: In Indianapolis, Curt Cavin noted IndyCar "still has event contracts to finalize" for '15, including one for Sonoma Raceway. But Sonoma President & GM Steve Page said Friday that he is "'close' on securing a date for next year's event and the contract that goes with it" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 8/23). Meanwhile, track officials said that the 12-turn, 2.385-mile circuit was "not damaged" by the earthquake that hit the Napa Valley region yesterday, allowing yesterday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to begin at 1:40pm PT as scheduled. Page said that the decision to continue with the race "was made after surveying the facilities and learning that all local roads were open." He said that the track's emergency services were "in place" as people arrived at the facility (, 8/25). 

Fans, officials and drivers in the Red Bull Global Rallycross series said that they "hope to return" to Daytona Int'l Speedway next year, but "possibly when temperatures are a little cooler," according to Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL. The series' first-ever stop in Florida this past weekend featured "two days of aggressive, exciting racing on a specially designed track." DIS President Joie Chitwood "confirmed that he and Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne "are 'in talks' about the series returning to Daytona Beach next year." Chitwood: "When you bring in a new event, you never know how successful it will be, so I’m really pleased right now." The average attendance at Rallycross events "is usually about 6,000 and 7,000." Chitwood said, "I think we’re pretty close there, between the fans and the paddock. Obviously if we had run it at a different time of year, it would help us." He added that there are "some options available for different dates in Daytona next year" (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 8/24).

HOT HOT HEAT: In Daytona Beach, Ken Willis wrote if it "makes financial sense to those involved -- particularly Daytona’s bottom-liners -- there’s a future" for Rallycross at DIS. If there is a future, "let’s hope it’s either at night or a shoulder-season month when heat-stroke warnings aren’t necessary." This debut "wasn’t exactly a last-minute deal, but close to it, and the unfriendly August-afternoon date was reportedly necessary due to available windows on NBC." Willis: "Not sure if Rallycross is ready to grow at Daytona as a stand-alone show." But it "doesn’t take much imagination to picture Rallycross and Supercross sharing a weekend and at least parts of the same dirt track," creating two "profitable" nights instead of one (Daytona Beach NEWS-JOURNAL, 8/24).