Andy Murray is "at the heart of the demand for London to join the big-city hosts that stage a glittering set of exhibition matches" Monday night to celebrate World Tennis Day and help the growth of the sport, according to Neil Harman of the LONDON TIMES. The BNP Paribas Showdowns, at Madison Square Garden, in N.Y., and in the AsiaWorld Arena, in Hong Kong, mark a day of events around the world. Plans are advanced for a leading London venue, possibly Earls Court, to be included in the 2014 event. A deal for London’s involvement "would further cement the city’s place at the heart of the tennis world," with Wimbledon and the Queen’s Club as its grass-court hub. Murray would be the "ultimate catch for the event" and negotiations should be easier since event producer StarGames Exec Producer and President Jerry Solomon manages Ivan Lendl, Murray’s coach (LONDON TIMES, 3/4).
Events and Attractions
England’s rugby World Cup in '15 "will see the sport showcased almost exclusively away from rugby stadiums, as nine of the 12 venues selected to host the tournament’s matches are football grounds," according to Stephen Jones of the SUNDAY TIMES. Wembley, Old Trafford and St. James’ Park have been chosen, and Gloucester’s home, Kingsholm, is the "only club rugby stadium on the list." The only other recognized rugby arenas are Twickenham and the Millennium stadium. Leicester Tigers "have expressed their fury that no games will take place at their 24,000-capacity Welford Road, but Leicester City’s 32,000-capacity King Power stadium will stage four games." The official announcement of venues and matches "will not be made until later in the month but the 12 venues are settled unless the Olympic stadium suddenly becomes available" (SUNDAY TIMES, 3/3). In London, Rik Sharma wrote the "only issue left to resolve" is whether Villa Park or the Ricoh Arena will be used. However, a spokesperson for the 2015 Rugby World Cup "denied the list was valid." Larger capacities -- "and therefore the potential for more tickets sold -- are the reason football stadiums are being used." The organizers "need an average attendance" of 55,000 in order to reach the £80M ($120M) guarantee they have made to the Int'l Rugby Board (DAILY MAIL, 3/3).
The Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia PGA Championship "will return on March 28-31 at the Emeralda Golf and Country Club, Depok, West Java." More than 150 golfers from 20 countries, "including 2011 champion Andre Stolz of Australia, Jeev Milkha Singh of India, Simon Dyson of England, Daniel Chopra of Sweden and Shingo Katayama of Japan are expected to participate" in the $1M event (JAKARTA POST, 3/1). ... The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals "has welcomed a significant softening of the Grand National fences at Aintree ahead of the famous race" on April 6. The cores of the obstacles, previously wooden posts, "have been replaced with a plastic birch that will be much more forgiving on the horses" (THE OBSERVER, 3/2).