Despite Minimal Advertisements, Wimbledon Most Lucrative Tennis Tournament
Wimbledon is "an annual miracle of commercial enterprise" during which the All England Lawn Tennis Club "tears up large sections of the corporate rule book as it puts propriety ahead of profit, clinging as closely as possible to the idea of 'tennis in an English garden,'" according to Richard Evans of NEWSWEEK. It "does not allow sponsorship signage anywhere across the club’s 14 acres." Companies must follow strict “almost entirely white” guidelines for clothing -- a rule that has been toughened up this year to include headbands and wristlets. There are no corporate boxes, no music played at changeovers, no replays shown on the big TV screen, “because it might embarrass or distract the players.” Club Chair Philip Brook said, "We run a tennis tournament, not an event. And we are successful precisely because we don’t have signage on the Centre Court. It enhances the uniqueness of the tournament and attracts the kind of partners like Rolex who share our vision and are content to have just one small sign on their Centre Court clock." That "should be laughable in today’s sporting world of giant billboards and raucous TV advertising." Earlier this month, Wimbledon became $174M richer when the '16–20 issue of debentures sold out at $85,000 each, "having been oversubscribed by 100 percent." This "was the first five-year cycle of debenture sales" since '09, and the price has rocketed from $47,000. Brook: “An 80 percent increase is big but we gauged the pricing on the demand we were seeing from internal sales." The club owns two companies -- "the Championships and the Ground Company." It is the latter organization that receives the debenture money as well as a “significant sum” in rent from the Championships for the two weeks of the tournament. In this way "all the modernization of the site from the building of a new No. 1 Court; a vast Broadcast Centre; the new Members and Players building and the roof over Centre Court has been financed" (NEWSWEEK, 6/23).